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Why don't you support more frequent testing?

May 7, 2005

Dear Robert,

You hear this often, but you are truly an inspiration and a kind soul. I wish only the best for you and yours.

Ok now thats out of the way - to the meat - I question why you don't suggest that people get tested more often - and with smaller time between tests? There is evidence beginning to pile up that testing during seroconversion can greatly impact a person's ability to fight the HIV virus over the course of his or her (hopefully long) life. This may be an effective method to add years to that life.

So often I see (from all experts not singling you out) that testing at 3 months is the answer.

My situation - I had a virtually no or low risk exposure. I won't get into it further - it involved a pro hand and lots of irrational fears on my part.

My plan is to get tested at 25 days, 4 6 8 and 12 weeks.

I realize that the odds of me contracting something are small - but it is important for some people to realize - that it is possible that by treating your infection before it is in the 'chronic' stage a la post seroconversion - you have a chance to keep a larger portion of your immune system healthy, thereby potentially increasing the years in your life and the life in your years.

I realize that it can be inconvenient to test frequently - but hopefully putting yourself at risk isnt an every weekend type of thing for most of us and we can make special considerations for this one time.

Even if the odds of infection are low 1 out of 10,000 or choose your own tiny fraction - if you choose different words it becomes poignant for me.

By saying, by taking a simple test you have a 1/10k chance to make your life 10 - 20 - 40 who knows how much percent longer/healthier/better - wouldn't you do it?

I hope that this found its way to you, and perhaps we can discuss some way I can offer some assistance or volunteer hours to your service. I am a college educated, young exec - whatever that means.

Regards, joe in boston

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Boston Joe,

The reason that I and "all the experts" do not recommend more frequent HIV testing with shorter time intervals is that there is no scientific rational or justification to do so. There is no firm scientific evidence that I'm aware of that indicates "testing during seroconversion can greatly impact a person's ability to fight the HIV virus . . ." or that it may be "an effective method to add years to that life."

I'll tell you something else "all the experts" would also agree on. If you've had "virtually no exposure" (i.e. a hand job and lots of irrational fears), there is no reason for HIV testing! Your plan to get tested at 25 days and at 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks is irrational and extremely expensive. The money wasted on such testing could actually save lives or be used to test people who are actually at risk. Since you are "college educated," think it over!

Dr. Bob

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