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6 vs 12 weeks... and why?
Jun 10, 2008

Hi Dr. Bob -

I have a question about testing. You recommend testing at 12 weeks for complete certainty.

There is a lot of info out there. Ive seen the following chart (supposed to be from CDC, although I cant find it):

Time Accuracy 2 weeks50% 3 weeks75% 4 weeks95% 6 weeks99% 3 months.100%

Along with this chart is the explanation that the tiny percentage that takes 3 months to develop antibodies is generally due to pre-existing immune inhibitors such as cancer, chemotherapy, recent organ transplant recipients who must take immune system-suppressing drugs, etc. Youve noted in previous posts that being infected with Hepatitis at the same time doesnt affect HIV antibody production or delay testing results (unless there is an active chronic infection).

So what is your take on the above Time/Accuracy estimates? For the generally population, is a negative test at 6 weeks in your opinion pretty definitive, just not certain?

(You guessed it... about to go in for six week test - but think this would be a beneficial post)

Thank you!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Sure, a negative HIV-antibody test at six weeks is "very encouraging" or "pretty definitive," if you like that phraseology better. However, when dealing with a disease as potentially catastrophic as HIV/AIDS, "very encouraging" or "pretty definitive" is just not good enough in my opinion. For the time being the guidelines continue to recommend a test at the three-month mark for a definitive and conclusive result.

Dr. Bob



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