|Doubt about window period
Apr 17, 2013
Doctor: I want to know why some websites uses 6 months and others 3 months as a definitive window period? I took 4th generation test at 3,6, 9, 12 and 22 weeks after an exposure, all results negative and PCR at 15 weeks with result undetectable viral load. But I have had symptoms like weight loss, red spots at arms, diarrhea, dry mouth, white tongue. Could I forget hiv?
| Response from Dr. Wohl
As many people ask similar questions we are looking at using a standard reply to such queries. Below is my standard answer to the issue of HIV test performance:
The sensitivity of HIV testing has improved greatly over the past few years. Current antibody tests can pick up HIV infection earlier than prior tests and by 90 days practically all (97%) infections are detected by antibody testing alone the remainder turn positive by 180 days. Therefore, a negative HIV antibody test after 90 days means that infection was highly unlikely and a test that is negative at 180 days or beyond is considered conclusive for the absence of HIV infection.
Even newer HIV tests look for the virus itself. These include assays such as HIV RNA tests (viral load) and p24 antigen tests. These become detectable within days of infection. So, an undetectable HIV RNA or p24 antigen test accompanied by a negative HIV antibody test at 90 days or beyond can also be considered conclusive for the absence of HIV infection.
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