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Confusion about the early HIV test. HELP DOCTOR BOB.

Nov 21, 2005

Hi Doc BOB. I have a quick question that I think has not been answered before (or at least the very last part of it). I am still a little confused about the early HIV tests. I understand that anytime before the 3 month period is not considered definitive. Does this mean that if the result is negative (lets say after 8 weeks), it does not guarantee that you dont have HIV but if its positive then you are definitely HIV+? If neither one (early positive or negative result) is considered definitive, then why do some doctors do an early one and then another one after the 3 month period??! Thanks.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Yes, this issue can be a bit confusing. Perhaps the best rule to remember is that HIV antibody testing prior to three months is not considered to be definitive or conclusive, and therefore is not recommended. If, however, someone does not follow this recommendation and gets tested during the three-month window period, a positive test is considered definitely and conclusively positive, but a negative test is not considered conclusively negative.

To make things even a bit more confusing, when using rapid HIV antibody tests beyond the three-month window, the situation is reversed. In this case a negative test is considered conclusively negative, but a positive test is not considered definitively positive. In this case a positive test requires confirmation by standard serology tests.

Hopefully I haven't positively confused you, as that would definitely be negative.

Dr. Bob

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