Aug 30, 2001
Dear Sir, I had an encounter of protected sexual intercourse with a sex worker. My penis was sore three days later and also tingling in my groin accompinied by fever and night sweats. I took PEP for thirty days and have tested negative at 6 months. Also negative at 3 months by quest diagnostics herpes serology. Are herpes serologies reliable? I had no open lesions to culture. Do herpes serologies have a window period? Do I need further HIV testing or is 6 months enough. Thank You
| Response from Mr. Kull
First of all, taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) following the type of sexual encounter (protected sex) you had is not necessary. PEP is only indicated for high-risk exposures, i.e., unprotected anal or vaginal sex with a person of known HIV seropositivity or at siginificant risk for infection. Also, PEP is only useful if started within 24-36 hours following exposure.
Testing at six months following a low-risk exposure is plenty of time for an accurate HIV antibody result.
For information on herpes detection methods, read the response to "How reliable is testing for Herpes Simplex Disease?" (http://www.medscape.com/medscape/PhysicianAsst/AskExperts/2000/10/PA-ae24.html). HSV antibody testing is useful in identifying HSV-infected asymptomatic patients, but its usefulness ends there. HSV antibody testing is limited because it does not give information on the sympotms one might or might not experience and transmissibility. Also, testing is insensitive for recent infections. Currently, screening of asymptomatic people is not recommended since it does not inform treatment or prevention.
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