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Please help: Window periods for testing of other STDs?
Dec 23, 2004

Hi Bob

Thank you for doing the work that you do. It amazes me that you can answer all these questions and keep your great sense of humour, especially considering your personal situation. You are an inspiration to us all. Keep fighting mate!

I understand that for a single risky exposure the window period for the HIV antibody test is 3 months, but I'm much less clear on the window periods for testing of other STDs.

Please can you tell me what the window periods are for testing of Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Hep B and Hep C? Unlike for HIV this is not clearly documented and what I have read on the internet has been quite inconsistent.

Many thanks in advance for your answer. Oh and thanks for the hand-signed letter & 'Notable Notes' newsletter you sent me in response to my donation. Wasn't expecting that. Hope the Concerted Effort event went well, and that you played a good set on the piano.

Love, Robert from UK.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Robert,

HIV has a "window period," because the screening test we use to detect infection depends on the development of anti-HIV antibodies, and that takes some time. The reason you are getting inconsistent information about screening other STDs is that the testing technology is very different. For gonorrhea, gram stain and culture are the preferred testing methods, but indirect enzyme immunoassay may be more sensitive than gram stain in women. DNA probes are also used. For syphilis, darkfield microscopy of the ulcer is recommended if an ulcer is present. If not, a VDRL or RPR (blood tests) are used. Hepatitis B and C use various types of blood tests for diagnosis and staging.

The bottom line, Robert, is that for HIV you have to wait at least three months due to the type of testing used to screen accurately for infection. Other STDs do not have a set "window period," because they use different testing techniques. If you think you've been exposed to an STD, just visit your doctor. He/she will know which tests to run and when to run them. To explain all the various STD screening tests and their specific uses and limitations here would produce a very long (and boring) response. So I hope my general comments will suffice.

Yes, Concerted Effort 2004 went very well! The next event is scheduled for April 2005!

Happy Holidays.

Dr. Bob



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