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1 month after illness, 1 month to go

Dec 6, 2005

Hi Dr. Bob, I have a question regarding the "symptoms" and how they pertain to a positive test result. About a month ago, I had the flu like "symptoms" from the Diarreah, vomiting, rash on my mouth etc.

Since then, I have recovered and have been patiently awaiting my 3 month mark. I'm at 2 right now. The 3rd month mark is Christmas Eve.

My question for you is if all of those "symptoms" were HIV related, would my test show positive at this time. Wouldn't my body have produced the white blood cells to try and fight off the HIV when I was sick? I read all of the answers saying to wait for 3 months, but I believe my question is rational. If we are testing for the white cells, wouldn't they be out when I got sick? (assuming that the sickness was HIV related).

Thanks for all of your help with this great web site. My donation is on the way.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Your question is rational and so will be my response, even though you may not like it. Guidelines are developed and approved based on scientific studies. Symptoms are notoriously unreliable when it comes to diagnosing HIV. The reason to get tested is having placed yourself at risk, not having symptoms. HIV screening tests (ELISA) do not measure white blood cells. Rather these tests measure the body's immune response to being infected. More specifically they measure anti-HIV antibodies which are proteins, not white blood cells. The current guidelines state that testing prior to three months (with or without symptoms) is not considered definitive or conclusive. Therefore it's not recommended. For now I'm sticking with this recommendation.

Hypothetically, if your symptoms were indeed due to HIV ARS, you would most likely have detectable anti-HIV antibodies in your blood. However, that's a big hypothetical and certainly cannot be relied upon or recommended.

My suggestion is that you get rapid tested at three months. Hopefully your Xmas stocking will have a big WOO-HOO in it by the time Santa finished his rounds.

Good luck.

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