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4 wks or 8? READ THIS BEFORE YOU ASK IF YOU ARE HIV+
Mar 17, 2002

1. I have read from this forum that after 8 weeks after exposure you can get an accurate result on an antibody test, but in other forums they mention 4 weeks. Can you clarify this? Is there any statistic about the accuracy of a test at 4 weeks? and 8 weeks? Is there any difference if your encounter was a low risk one?? 2. How long it takes to a person infected to start infecting others? I guess it's the same time like the window period??

Thanks a lot!!!

Response from Dr. Feinberg

Here's the scoop for you and all the many other people who are seeking precise answers that do not exist: the reason the timeframes for testing after infection vary is that no two people are the same. In the real, everyday practice of medicine there are always variations: some people will seroconvert at 2 weeks, and some won't do so until 16 weeks. That is why medicine is as much an art as a science, and why experience on the part of the physician is so important. SO IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU AND THE MANY OTHER PEOPLE WHO WRITE TO THE BODY UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NOT A 'ONE SIZE FITS ALL' ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS. IN GIVING AN APPROXIMATE RANGE OF WEEKS OR MONTHS FOR TESTS TO BECOME POSITIVE AFTER AN EXPOSURE WE ARE SIMPLY TRYING TO PROVIDE GENERAL INFORMATION THAT WILL APPLY TO THE GREATEST NUMBER OF PEOPLE. THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS, AND THOSE SITUATIONS CANNOT BE DIVINED BY THE DOCTOR WHO IS ACTUALLY SEEING YOU, NO LESS BY AN EXPERT WHO IS ANSWERING QUESTIONS ON A WEBSITE.

Sorry for all the capitals, but I'm really trying to get a point across here. The main thing is: if you're concerned about your HIV test, then get tested (or retested, as the case may be). We don't have crystal balls, and I cannot assure or reassure anyone that they are or aren't infected, no matter how many details of their exposure/sex acts they give me.

Transmission of HIV to others has nothing to do with blood tests. You can infect others as soon as you are infected yourself-- this has nothing to do with whether your HIV antibody test is positive yet or not.


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