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Drug use question (HEPATITIS C AND HIV TESTING)
Jun 2, 2008

I have tested positive for Hep C as result of sharing needles. The incident was 3 months ago and I have since tested NEGATIVE for HIV. I have searched the archives and one of your responses states that there are instances where HIV seroconversion can be delayed out to 1 YEAR as a result of Hep C/HIV coinfection. Do you recommend that I get tested at the 6 month and ALSO at the 1 YEAR mark? Thank you for your response.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

This issue tends to come up frequently, so I'll try to clarify the current recommendations. The CDC has published guidelines for health care workers who sustain a significant occupational exposure to a patient coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C viruses. These guidelines recommend HIV-antibody testing at baseline and at six and twelve weeks after exposure. There is one caveat, however: If and only if the health care worker develops acute hepatitis C infection, additional HIV-antibody testing is recommended out to 12 months. If we apply these guidelines to the nonoccupational setting, extended HIV screening would be recommended if and only if you developed signs, symptoms and laboratory tests confirming acute hepatitis C (not just testing antibody-positive for hepatitis C virus).

Hope that helps clarify the situation.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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