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Does Hep C impact HIV seroconversion / window period?
Mar 21, 2008

I have a question about HIV and Hepatitis C coinfection. I am finding conflicting information on the internet regarding whether coinfection would delay HIV seroconversion. Several sites and articles are stating that it would, but they all cite a 1997 journal article about health care workers with delayed seroconversion. I wasnt sure if other factors may have contributed to late seroconversion in these health care workers (such as PEP). Further, since this article is rather old, I was wondering if the newer tests would pick up HIV antibodies regardless of HCV coinfection. I am planning to test for HIV using the OraQuick Advance Rapid 1/2 test offered by my local health department. I am wondering how long after exposure I need to wait in order for my test to provide a conclusive result and rule out HIV infection. My exposure is that Im concerned a needle was reused on me when my blood was drawn at a local lab (patient service center of a national lab company). I know that you (and many others) will state that needles are not reused, but I am planning to test for my own piece of mind. Assuming the worst case scenario that I was exposed to HIV and HCV at the same time through a contaminated needle, when would the OraQuick test provide a conclusive result and would HCV infection affect the HIV window period/seroconversion in any way? Thank you very much for your time.

Response from Dr. McGovern

There is much confusion about this point.

The CDC recommends that health care workers who are exposed to a HIV/HCV coinfected patients get HIV testing at baseline, six, and 12 weeks after exposure. However, if - and only if - the healthcare worker becomes ill with ACUTE HEPATITIS C INFECTION - THEN AND ONLY THEN - is additional testing for HIV recommended at 12 months. If the healthcare worker does not get acute hepatitis C infection, testing is complete for both infections at six months.

I hope this helps.



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