|Why is there a 6-month window period?
May 12, 2001
I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me. I have been perusing several websites on HIV/AIDS, and I have been talking to many people about HIV antibody testing. Some people say 3 months is the length of the window period. Some people say 6 months is the length of the window period. The experts' views on this website have all suggested that at 3 months post exposure, an HIV antibody test is greater than 99 accurate. I have noticed that you yourself posted a Q&A ("Testing?") stating that no one who tested negative on ELISA at 3 months tested positive at 4 to 6 months. So if there is so much consensus that after 3 months an HIV antibody test is good as gold, why would the workers at the local department of health tell me that the HIV antibody test is good only after 6 months post exposure? Why have I read in a couple of places a detectable presence of HIV antibodies may take up to 6 months to develop? Am I just getting confused by people who have incomplete or old data? I have chosen to believe experts like yourself, but I am still wondering why there seems to be so much difference of opinion as to the length of something as free of opinion as the window period.
| Response from Dr. Holodniy
Because there is opinion, expert opinion and there is objective peered reviewed data. Official agencies (like the CDC), use a combination of information to formulate guidelines. Their guidelines will always be the most conservative.
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