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TNF blockers and window period

Nov 28, 2007

Dear Dr. Bob,

At the outset, thank you for your advocacy and for your foundation. Many of us would like to donate resources, but often are unsure of precisely how our donations will be used. Your involvement encourages us to become involved, too.

I am not sure where to go for help on this question, so I do hope you may have answers for me (and others). I had a couple of possible exposures (unprotected vaginal) earlier this year. I tested negative to antibody at 1, 2, 3, and 4 months last possible exposure. I also had a negative PCR by DNA at 1 month. All clear, right?

Well, my concern is whether my taking one of the increasingly popular TNF blockers for arthritis (i.e., Enbrel, Humira, etc.) would delay the body's antibody response beyond the conventional 3-month window (?). On the one hand, these meds. do supress one's immnune response somewhat, but on the other hand, they are a far cry from chemotherapy, etc. Many, many people now take these meds., and I have been unable to find anything about their potential impact on HIV antibody testing.

Given my test results, may I whoo-hoo? I would really like to put this behind me, and to not put others at risk either, but am concerned.

Thank you very, very much!

Response from Dr. Frascino


TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers do not affect HIV test results. While it is true that TNF and TNF blockers are involved with the body's immune response, they would not affect the portion of the immune response needed to make specific antibodies.

As for The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, it is a not-for-profit tax-exempt charitable organization whose sole mission is to provide crucial services for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through advocacy and education. To date we have raised well over $1,000,000 for a wide range of projects from AIDS hospice care in Los Angeles to AIDS education in the primary schools on the Mendocino Coast to the provision of anti-HIV medications to HIV-positive pregnant women in Africa, thereby helping to prevent transmission of the virus to their newborns. For a more in-depth look at some of the projects the Foundation was involved with this past year, go to the Foundation's Web site,, and click on "Notable Notes," the Foundation's newsletter.

So, given your test results, should you WOO-HOO??? Absolutely. As for "not putting others at risk," remember the best way to do that is to properly use a latex condom for all penetrative sex!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Seriously, What is meant by an "open sore"?

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