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Why false positive if someone is experiencing ARS ?

Oct 31, 2000

Hi Ryan, keep up the great work!! Two questions: 1) A few of your responses regarding ARS indicate that seroconversion in most people (approx 70%) occurs within 4-6 weeks of exposure. You also state that a person may not test positive at this time. I'm confused? Isn't seroconversion your body's reaction to the HIV virus & therefore shouldn't one test positive if experiencing ARS?; and 2) I have a tremendous amount of anxiety regarding a possible exposure I had approximately 5 weeks ago. I took a home HIV test and the results were negative. I plan on taking another test at 2 & 3 months --- did i test for nothing at the 5 week mark? I look forward to your response.

Response from Mr. Kull

Acute retroviral syndrome and seroconversion describe events that occur over a period of time in different people. It is difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen in any individual in any moment of time. It is likely that a person will have a positive serology when experiencing ARS, but it is not a given. Enough antibodies need to be present for the antibody test to detect them. The figures I have seen state that ARS symptoms occur two to four weeks after infection and that a person will have a positive antibody test an average of three weeks after infection.

You did not test for nothing at the five week mark, but I wouldn't be secure with a result until three months have passed.


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