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HIV-2 prevalence and window period
Jul 19, 2008

Hello Dr. Bob -

Saturday will be 12 weeks from my potential exposure and heading in on Monday for my 12 week test. Tested negative at 9 weeks, so hoping to stay and get my WOOHOO!

Like a lot of other worriers out there, I'm now wondering about HIV-2. And perhaps because it isn't prevelent in the US, there is a lot of conflicting info out there. Can you shed some light on HIV-2... and hopefully eliminate some unecessary testing?

1) I saw one short reference in the archives that states the window period for HIV-2 is the same as HIV-1. (http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Archive/Testing/Q152446.html). Is this still the current thinking... a 12 week negative HIV-2 test considered definitive? (The company I'm testing through - www.requestatest.com - said it could take up to six months... yikes!)

2) How prevalent really is HIV-2 in the U.S.? The testing company said <100 cases. The CDC website agrees (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/hiv2.htm), but that data is 10 years old... posted in 1998. Could it be in the tens of thousands now... or are there more accurate and updated numbers available somewhere?

3) I've also seen it referenced that HIV-2 is more difficut to transmit than HIV-1. Is this the case?

4) The new EIA HIV-1 tests catch around 70% of HIV-2?

Thanks for your efforts. You and your foundation are truly a blessing! $100 donation made (thanks for the CD)!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

1. The window period for HIV-2 is the same as for HIV-1, i.e. three months.

2. The incidence and prevalence of HIV-2 remains very low in the U.S. The CDC has updated numbers on national HIV-1 and HIV-2 statistics. Could there be tens of thousands of cases now? No, absolutely not. New York State published figures through May 2000 that reveal a total of 124 confirmed cases of HIV-2 in New York State.

3. Compared to HIV-1, HIV-2 is less transmissible. Transmission is five- to eightfold less efficient than HIV-1 in early-stage disease and rarely the cause of vertical transmission (mother-child transmission).

4. Most HIV-1 antibody tests will detect up to 70% of HIV-2 cases. Also please note that HIV-2-specific as well as HIV-1/HIV-2 combination tests are readily available in the U.S.

Thank you for you generous gift to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation. You're welcome for the CD!

Good luck! Be well!

Dr. Bob



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