Dec 17, 2008
You answered a question today and included the following advice regarding hiv testing,'Generally by 6 months the test should be positive'. It is widely accepted that the window period with modern testing is 3 months, by the CDC as well as every European country, Canada and Australia, and has been for quite some years now - in fact it is documented in the British hiv testing guidelines published in Sept 08 that,'Although fourth generation tests shorten the time from exposure to seroconversion a repeat test at three months is still recommended to definitively exclude HIV infection'. It is frustrating that even though the US government advise the population that a 12 week negative test is definitive and conclusive, answers like this continue to be given and continue to cause unnecessary worry for people who deserve to be told accurate and up-to-date information.
Response from Dr. McGowan
I can understand the frustration in your question.
I practice in New York State. The current recommendation for HIV testing after potential exposure as recommended by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute is: "Sequential confidential HIV testing should be obtained at baseline, 1, 3, and 6 months post-exposure even if PEP is declined." This recommendation was last revise January 2008 (www.hivguidelines.org). The CDC recommendations for HIV testing after non-occupational exposure are in line with this recommendation: "All patients seeking care after HIV exposure should be tested for the presence of HIV antibodies at baseline and at 4--6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after exposure to determine whether HIV infection has occurred." (Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5402a1.htm). This recommendation was re-iterated in the CDC guidelines (released August 2008) for potential exposure to HIV in a mass casualty situation (available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5706a1.htm?s_cid=rr5706a1_e).
While it is true that the vast majority of conversions will occur sooner it is still the standard recommendation to test up to 6 months and that is the advice I would provide.
Thanks for your question.
This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.
Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither TheBody.com nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.