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What to believe?
Aug 17, 2001

Dr. Fisher,

Do you feel a negative ELISA at 6 months is 100 enough to rule out HIV infection? There seem to be so many individuals taking multiple ELISAs and expensive viral load tests (RNA, DNA PCR), and even individuals continuing to test beyond 6 months. I am really confused. The CDC says 6 months is enough, yet even indications on this website have suggested testing out to a year or more. What information should one believe? I can see now why there are so many worried wells out there!

Response from Dr. Fisher

In medicine we are taught that we should "never say never". So it may be possible for someone to test negative at 6 months but be infected and test positive at 12 months. However this must be extremely rare; I have never (there I go violating the rule) seen a documented instance where this has occured. I advise people to stop worrying when their tests come back negative at 3 months (especially if I have also done a PCR test) or at 6 months. Many of my questions in this forum relating to infection with HIV involve very trivial exposures with negative tests at 2-6 months. I can't stop the well from worrying. I can advise safer sex though. AF

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