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Window periods suck
Mar 25, 2004

Hey Dr. Bob,

Kudos for such an awesome set-up and the honorable path you have chosen in life. I'm a (recently) avid reader of these archives and I admire your candor, your humor, and your wealth of information. In responding to other people, you have answered 95% of my questions.

Speaking of percentages here's a question about percentages which constitutes the remaining 5 percent of my formerly unanswered questions! (Am I annoying yet?!)

Here goes. I had unprotected vaginal intercourse with a friend who has tested negative in the past. Her status as of now is unknown, but I'm somewhat sure she is of low risk. Seven weeks later, I developed flu-like symptoms (esp. swollen glands and sore throat) which went away in 1 week.

A 7.5 week 3rd-generation Elisa test turned out to be negative. I plan on going back to get re-tested at 12 weeks.

Roughly, what percentage of infected people will test positive within 7.5 weeks by means of this test? Discouragingly enough, research is turning up grossly different scenarios. I'm getting answers which range from 65% to 95%. Not to seem high-maintenance or demanding (after all, it's my mental health and sanity I hope not to compromise here over the next 5 weeks), but isn't there a smaller percentage interval upon which most professionals in this field can agree?

Thanks again for what you do.

- Fellow Cardinal

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Fellow Cardinal,

Fellow Cardinal? Are you one of those warped little guys who wear those unfashionable (and unflattering) red dresses and puffed poofy red bonnets and live in the Vatican and follow the Pope-mobile around swinging smoking incense containers that look like cheap handbags that have been set on fire? That might explain why your sex was unprotected, as many in your cult have shockingly professed (against all scientific fact and basic common sense) that condoms don't protect against HIV. OK, let's assume you're not one of them. Maybe you're a Stanford sports team guy or a bird or whatever the hell else cardinal might refer to. (Now it's my turn. Am I getting annoying yet?!?)

OK, on to your question. The answer to your question is that there is no answer to your question. Your research is merely turning up opinions and best guesses; hence, the large range. The real research shows the time delay from infection to positive antibody test averages 14 to 22 days with the newer test reagents. Some folks may not seroconvert for three to four weeks, but virtually all seroconvert within six months. Consequently, there is no absolute percentage I can give you for 7.5 weeks, and that is something all professionals in the field would indeed agree on.

Stay well Cardinal.

Dr. Bob



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