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truth about hepatitis' affect on antibody testing

Sep 6, 2002

Dear Dr. Little

I have read conflicting information about hepatitis' affect on the antibody test. You had stating to a person that was exposed to HCV through blood that they may have to test beyond 3 months. You said that HCV can delay seroconversion and that they have to retest at 6 months and again at 12. I read another response by a different DR. on this site that hepatitis does not affect antibody testing. I need clarification because I believe that I may have come in contact with the blood of a known HIV postive perosn. I never considered HCV in the equation and now I fear that I may not be seroconverting bacause of a potential exposure to HCV. I had 3 tests done the last being 6 months after the exposure. Now I am afraid that the true results won't be known until an additional 6 months. Please help me in regards to this. The first 6 months was hell and the next will be hell as well. Not everyone can afford those expensive tests. For many of us the ELISA is all we have in finding out our HIV status. I am also afraid that I may be missing out on early treatment due to late seroconversion.

Response from Dr. Little

The key word is "MAY" delay HIV seroconversion. It has been reported in the literature - VERY RARELY - and as such, repeat HIV testing beyond 6 months MIGHT be considered if Hep C coinfection has been documented. This is rare enough that it is not even part of the CDC public health service guidelines as anything more than a consideration of this possibility. It is not a routine recomendation.

Lab results could they mean resistence?

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