HIV test accuracy at 8 weeks after oral sex
Aug 18, 2008
Dr. Bob, First of all, after reading through your site, I am so taken back by all the great things that are going on here... I am going to be donating to your Foundation!!! What great work! My question is this... I performed oral sex on three different men back in late April of this year over the course of 3 days while traveling in New York. I subsequently asked each of them their HIV status, and they all said they were negative. A week and a half later, I developed an illness that lasted for 4-5 days consisting of fever, sore throat, swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck though only one was tender- the nodes under the back of the jawbone, some body aches, and I am guessing an unrelated canker sore that started four days before I felt ill. My gums were also swollen the last day or so of the illness, but that went away with a saltwater gargle. I totally freaked out being a gay man, as well as a bit of a hypochondriac, and persisted to research every possible cause relating to ARS on the internet... My doctor in LA who is an HIV expert, spoke to me over the phone while I was sick and thought it was probably a viral or bacterial infection from the traveling and lack of sleep. But still, I put myself on whirlwind 6-week worry fest where I could barely function... I tested with an ELISA blood draw at my doctor AND a Home Access test at 6-weeks and both of those came back negative... I was slightly relieved, but unconvinced. I also took another Home Access test at 8-weeks which also came back negative. I am an otherwise normal guy with a healthy immune system. It is now 4 months after the potential risky behavior... How conclusive are my 6 and 8-week results? Do I need to test again? Everything I read seems to contradict... Some say 6-weeks is conclusive, some say 8-weeks in conclusive, others 12 and 13 weeks, even for those with normal immune systems... I would really appreciate your guidance here, as you really know what you are talking about. I hope to get a response to your question. Thanks again for all your work on this site. All the best!
Response from Dr. Frascino
Three blowjobs on three different guys within three days while traveling in New York!?! Hmm . . . if this was a business trip, I'd like to know what line of business you are in. If this was vacation, I'd like to get the name of your travel agent. But I digress . . . back to your problem. David, asking hunky-spunky studs about their HIV status after the fact isn't really all that helpful. It's safer just to assume all our sex partners could be HIV positive and consequently take all the necessary precautions to prevent HIV transmission. Personally, even if a dude strapped a lie detector on his Mr. Happy, I wouldn't trust his HIV status self-report. Remember, over 25% of the one million HIV-positive Americans have no idea they are infected with the virus.
Your risk, oral sex, carries only a very low risk for HIV acquisition. Check out the archives of this forum. We have a whole chapter devoted to oral sex. Not surprisingly, you're not the first one to have these concerns.
Regarding HIV-antibody testing, the current U.S. Guidelines state that tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not definitive. (And hey, we also have a whole chapter on HIV testing in the archives as well! Surprise, surprise, eh? Check it out!) Certainly your multiple negative HIV-antibody tests out to eight weeks are very encouraging, but they are not conclusive. If you desire an FDA-approved negative test result, you'll need to get a follow-up test at three months from the last potential exposure. The odds are astronomically in your favor that you did not contract HIV from your tricked-out triple-play.
Thanks for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's urgently needed and warmly appreciated. In return, I'm sending you my good-luck karma that your definitive three-month HIV test remains negative. I'm quite confident it will.
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