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Why Wait 3 Months?

Aug 28, 2002

Doctor why must a person wait 3 months until after they might have been exposed to HIV to get tested and know the results are 100 definite. Also if my girlfriend had an HIV test where they scraped the inner lining of her mouth for cells to be tested, am I at risk for example if I kiss her? Reason I ask is because if they test her by using cells from her mouth..then are those cells a possible way to pass anything on to me through kissing if they (the cells) are reliable enough to be used for in the testing process? I would really appreciate if you could answer my question. This is the second time I have sought your expert advice which I really need to help me stop with the worrying and anxiety of wondering about this question all the time. Thank You Very Much for your time.

Response from Mr. Kull

Oral antibody tests don't exactly scrape cells from your mouth; they test fluid that is collected between your cheek and gum. So you are not at any increased risk for infection because she had an oral antibody test (you are not at any real risk for HIV infection through exposure to saliva in any case).

The best testing method for HIV infection is an antibody test. It takes about a month for the majority of the population to develop a detectable amount of antibodies to HIV, and virtually all HIV infected people will develop antibodies in three months. Therefore, testing is not considered accurate until three months have elapsed since exposure. In very rare circumstances, a person could take six or more months to develop detectable antibodies.


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