Confused by conflicting information, please elaborate.
Nov 1, 2011
I come to you this last time in an attempt to understand what I have been told in previous answers. I have tested ANTIBODY negative for both HIV and Hep C out to 13 months after a high risk incident. I have had and continue to have to this day very troubling physical symptoms. I had diagnosed oral thrush 4 weeks after the incident. About 6 weeks after the incident I started to have upper right abdominal discomfort which gradually started to last longer and become more severe. I started getting numb hands and feet, headaches, fatigue. My liver enzymes were elevated from the second month mark until just recently where they have gone back to normal. At 15-16 weeks after the incident I got the worst "flu" I ever had in my life. I had a fever of 103, diarrhea, sore throat, muscle aches. I could not get out of bed for a week. I felt like I was going to die. For the past two months everyday I wake up I am totally congested and feel like I have a head cold that will not go away. Doctor, where I am struggling to believe in my test results stems from what you said about simultaneous co infection of HIV and Hep C. You stated that only if you were suffering from Acute Hep C infection could it delay the detection of HIV antibodies. What I am having a hard time with is why is it not possible that I was suffering from Acute Hep C infection? I had elevated liver enzymes, excess gas, bloating, pain in upper right abdominal area, headaches, dark urine, fatigue. I had classic Hep C symptoms. If both viruses can affect the antibody detection of each other then how do you know I was not suffering from acute hep c? It all seems like talking in circles to me. How is one to know they have Acute Hep C if the antibody tests are negative? I have read that it can be difficult to diagnose Acute Hep C so how can we rule it out as a factor in delaying HIV sero-conversion? I don't want to test anymore and I want to believe my results but I have been left frustrated and confused by what I have read. Can you please elaborate for me and do you think I should stop testing for HIV? How can I close this chapter and move on one way or another? You are wonderful human being who does much good for people in their times of need. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Response from Mr. Cordova
I agree it would seem we are talking in circles. Let's see if we can break down what is happening and figure things out.
First, let's talk about what we do know. We know that when a person is infected with Hepatitis C the body produces antibodies for life. The only time that the body would NOT produce antibodies is when the person is HIV positive, and even then it is a small percentage of people. We also know that co-infection of HIV & Hepatitis C (HCV) COULD delay the production of HIV anti-bodies. However, even at 6 months it would be rare. At 13 months, your HIV anti-body test is conclusive. So now we know for sure that you don't have HIV. If you don't have HIV then your body would have produced antibodies for HCV, should you have been infected. Since your antibody test for Hep C came back negative at 13 months, which is well outside any conservative windows, you should believe the results of that test. You are negative for Hepatitis C.
What we don't know, is what caused those symptoms you described. The symptoms you mentioned could be caused by any number of things, so by themselves they can't be an indicator of what happened. My suggestion is that if you are concerned about the symptoms you have listed, you should see your doctor so as to rule out the possibility of any other ailments outside of Hepatitis C.
I hope this helps.
In health, Richard
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