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what does "average is 25 days" mean?

Apr 27, 2008

Dear Dr Horwath

When I call the CDC about hiv testing, they tell me that antibodies to HIV show up on the rapid test between 2 and 8 weeks, with "the average being 25 days". What exactly does this mean? I take it to mean that 50% of all HIV + individuals will show test positive by the 25th day, is that right?



Response from Dr. Horwath

In statistical terms, the CDC is saying that the "mean" time between infection and a positive antibody test is 25 days. For example, if you test 100 people, you would add up all the results (total number of days for all subjects) and then divide by 100 to obtain the "mean." The term "average" is used commonly to refer to the statistical concept of a "mean."

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