a garbage question
May 16, 2009
Hey Dr. Bob,
I have a quick qeustion for you. After a negative 3 month elisa test, what are the odds of delayed seroconversion. I have looked through your site, and you mention multiple times that a 6 month test is warranted for high risk exposures and occupational exposures. What about your own personal experience. Have you ever seen anybody who was negative at 3 months, and positive on further testing?? I know that the guidelines are conservative and recommend 6 months, but I would love to hear about your own personal experiences, as I'm sure you've seen many different people get tested for possible exposures. I ask these questions because I work in a healthcare facility and I had an incident where I thought while cleaning the garbage that I may have gotten pricked by a unknown needle but there was no wound although I did have a superficial scratch. The incident has been reported, and I will follow their recommendations to testing, but do you think that if my 3 month test is negative then I am safe to have sex with my wife again without worrying? I'd love your thoughts on the matter. I love your column and am so grateful for all of your help. Thanks for always being there when needed.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Using the newer generation HIV-antibody tests I have not seen anyone test negative at three months and subsequently test positive unless there were extenuating circumstances. However, at least for now the guidelines' recommendation for a follow-up test at the six-month mark for occupational exposures and non-occupational exposures with a documented significant high risk remain in effect.
Your occupational risk is negligible at best. However, I would advise you use latex condoms for penetrative sex until your six-month test reconfirms your HIV-negative status. It's a relatively small and temporary inconvenience that will provide an extra layer of security, both physically and psychologically.
Good luck. Be well. (I'm quite confident you are indeed well.)
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