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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.)

Dr. Bob

Just thank you

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