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Viral sequencing in occupational exposures and mutations
May 18, 2003

Dr. Bob:

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

For of all I as wondering do late seroconversion even happen anymore?

You stated to one person that if someone got HIV from a patient it can be proving through viral sequencing, how long can that be done if it is not done right away considering mutations and all? If the virus does mutate can there still be evidence that it came from the source?

I serious believe that I contracted the virus from a patient because of ongoing symptoms i'm having indicative of HIV infections. I have had these symptoms since the possible exposure and I tested negative the last time I tested which was nine months after the possible exposure. It's been 16 months since the exposure and I'm too afraid to test again. If I do get the courage to test I want to be able to prove how I got the virus if indeed I am positive. I know you had an occupational exposure how long did it take you to seroconvert? Thank you again for all your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Why are you worried about typing viral strains when there is absolutely no chance you are HIV-positive? Your negative HIV test beyond 6 months past the time of potential exposure is definitive without any doubt! If you test at 16 months, it will be negative, and if you test at 160 months or 1600 months, it will still be negative.

"Symptoms" of possible HIV infection do not mean you have this disease. I can assure you: You do not! So leave that poor patient alone. He or she has enough to deal with without your chasing after them with a nonexistent illness.

To answer your scientific question, yes, even with mutations over a period of time, the viruses from 2 individuals can be compared to see if they are similar enough to have come from the same source. This is information you will not need.

Get some counseling, if you remain excessively fearful, as HIV is not your problem. Show this e-mail to your therapist.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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