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$100 Donation, General Health
Nov 20, 2007

Dr. Bob,

First of all thank you for addressing my concern about 1 month ago. I donated $100 and received your letter and DVD, I think and know this is all such a great cause - my gained knowledge through your forum is now so valuable.

My exposure was just over 2 months ago. I thought I was experiencing symptoms (night sweats, sore throat, sore armpits, sore neck) so I got antibody tests at 4.5 weeks, 6.5 weeks, and 8.5 weeks, all negative. I've seen in your previous postings that a negative test trumps AIDS related symptoms- (1) is this true for ARS symptoms? (2) Also does a person's general health have any impact on how long it takes them to produce antibodies? I can't figure out whether a very healthy person with a strong immune system should produce antibodies sooner or later than someone with a weak immune system.

After each negative test I've been so close to getting over my fears but some symptom will come back (I know not reliable!) but now its my armpits being so sore along with the back of my neck and groin (no visibly noticable bumps, no discoloration, just sore) and it just makes me fear it is generalized swollen lymph nodes. It's been 9.5 weeks since my exposure and I last tested negative less than a week ago, and I've read over and over again that ARS symptoms occur only up to 6 weeks after infection- (3) does infection = time of exposure? (4)and does this mean that any 'symptoms' I am having now must therefore be unrelated?

I feel like I SHOULD feel pretty good about testing negative at 2 months- are there any statistics (even generally) on testing positive only AFTER 2 months? Have there been any consistent reasons behind those who produce antibodies later than the average 25 days statistic?

I REALLY appreciate anything you can offer me here. Going home for Thanksgiving and could use some added knowledge to get me through my last/3rd month of worrying!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

1. It's true a negative test trumps symptoms; however, that assumes the test is conducted properly. That means it was done after the window period. To specifically address your question, yes, it does include ARS symptoms outside the window period!

2. Generally there would be no significant difference so long as the immune system is intact enough to produce antibodies effectively. If you wanted to argue hypothetically, the "very healthy person with a strong immune system" might be more likely to produce a more rapid and robust immune response, including production of specific antibodies.

3. Yes. "Infection" generally refers to the time of primary HIV infection, rather than, say, the time of seroconversion.

4. No. You would still be in your window period (three months).

5. No, there are no statistics on reliability of testing at two months, as the test is not recommended to be taken until the three-month mark.

6. Yes, there are a whole host of reasons. Also remember "average" means there are people who would be on either side of that "average" statistic!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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