Sep 11, 2002
Dear Doctor, Is there any difinitive information, or statistics about EXACTLY how long to wait before getting tested after exposure (the "window" period)? Some docs say six months, some say three and you can find almost any answer on the web.....you've said three in most of your answers, but then have mentioned it IS possible to take up to six months. Is there any FINAL answer to this? What are the statistics? I have been operating under the assumption that it is three months and I'm worried that perhaps I was wrong and could be putting myself at risk b/c of false information...can you somehow clear this up? much thanks...
Response from Mr. Kull
There is no final answer on the window period. There is no way to predict exactly what is going to happen with every single person in every single circumstance. I know that is anxiety provoking, but that is the nature of life, no?
It's best to go with the current recommendations set forth by the CDC. For the vast majority of exposures and people, testing at a minimum of three months after exposure is sufficient. It is rare that someone would take six or more months to develop a detectable level of antibodies against HIV. The only situation in which repeat testing at six months is recommended are in circumstances where a person had an exposure to a person who was confirmed to be HIV infected and/or the person experiences unexplained symptoms indicative of acute infection (as assessed by a medical professional) despite negative test results.
Since it is unlikely that we can get more exact than this, you will have to do what you are most comfortable with. This might mean that you will get an antibody test at six months as opposed to three months after exposure.
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