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When Contagious?
Nov 7, 1996

I had an unprotected encounter with a female who had a high risk exposure 11 days earlier. Should I be concerned about possilbe transmission from this person, given the short time between her initial possilbe exposure and our encounter? Thanks for taking time

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

It's very hard to determine what is the minimal amount of time between when a person becomes infected with HIV, and when they become infectious to others. We really don't know what the bare minimum amount of time is before a person can infect others. Therefore, we must assume that once a person is infected, they are immediately infectious. So in the case of your encounter with this woman, my best suggestion is to assume that if she was infected, you were exposed as well (just to be on the safe side). Nobody can quantify the chances of your risk other than to say your exposure was a possibility. So if you did have unprotected sex with her, assume you may have been exposed and consider getting tested 6 months after the exposure for the most accurate test result.

Unfortunately, because we don't know the minimal amount of time between getting infected, and being able to infect others, we must assume that you may have been at some risk, but nobody can quantify the risk. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS



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