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Anonymous
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And the window period debate goes on!
      #11330 - 10/25/00 12:42 AM



the great window period debate.....
By Joel E. Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. (29-Jul-1998)


Dear Dr. Gallant,

There seems to be some discord in the HIV community about the current status of the window period. The CDC says 6 months. The GMHC says 3 months. The New York Department of Health says 3 months. The Canadians say 3 months. I have read places on this site that say 6 months. "3-6-3-6-3-6" - It gives me a headache just thinking about it. Uh oh - do you think that the headache could be HIV related? Seriously, I must tell you that this is all very confusing, and I am having trouble determining what is in reality, the window period before antibodies show up?

The GMHC says that the increased sensitivity of the EIA tests have decreased the window period? Is that correct? They now claim that 99.7% of all infected people will show positive by 3 months. The CDC will not give a percentage. Is there a significant number of people who will test negative at 3 months and positive at 6, or is the CDC just being ultra conservative?

Please shed some light on this subject...

p.s.
I am 98.65342% sure that you can help answer these questions
keep up the good work....



As I said in another recent answer, it all depends on how much certainty you want. I would agree with the GMHC that about 99.7% of people will have converted by 3 months. Testing again at 6 months is going to get rid of that 0.3% uncertainty. Is that really important? Probably not, especially for people with the kind of non-exposures that I get asked about about here. But in the case of a legitimate, high-risk exposure, one might want to retest at 6 months, while acknowledging that the test will probably continue to be negative.

Since I am a doctor and not a policy maker, I have the luxury of being able to answer the question this way, without having to decide what the "official policy" should be.




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Anonymous
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Re: And the window period debate goes on! new
      #11331 - 10/25/00 12:47 AM

Question:
I wrote you before but now I have more information. I had an encounter March 2, have felt unwell since March 10 - my doctor feels alot of it is anxiety and I am being treated for it. At the 5 week mark I had a CBC diff with CD4 count of 402. At the 6 week mark I had a viral load test undetectable at 400. At the 13 week mark I had an EIA negative. Now, at the 16 week mark, due to some diarrhea and low fevers, I had another CBC diff. The total WBC was 6800, %lymphs only 12, suggesting that I still have a very low CD4 count. What are the chances that this is HIV or should we be looking for some other cause. My doctor seems unconcerned about the numbers, the rest of which are all normal and remains confident I don't have HIV, but they are so low! Please advise, and sorry to take away from those who are definitely infected but this is very real for me. Thanks.



Response:
Dear worried-


i would not make so much of the low lymph % on your WBC- it is not a CD4 count. The negative HIV test at 12 weeks makes HIV really unlikely. I suspect you have some other type of viral infection and that you will improve soon. For more advice about HIV prevention and possible exposure please see the safe sex forum- good-luck.

Judith Currier, M.D.





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Anonymous
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Re: And the window period debate goes on! new
      #11332 - 10/25/00 01:04 AM





Time between contraction and positive test results



Question:
How much time will pass between contraction of H.I.V. and receiving a positive test? Or, if I conducted in high risk behavior, how long should I wait before I get tested?



Dr. Holodniy's Response:
Antibody tests are usually positive within 4-12 weeks after exposure.
MH






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Anonymous
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Re:whatever you are comfortable with new
      #11336 - 10/25/00 08:40 AM

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Frequently Asked Questions | Home | Index | Search | Site Map | En Español

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How long after a possible exposure should I wait to get tested for HIV?

The tests commonly used to detect HIV infection actually look for antibodies produced by your body to fight HIV. Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 3 months after infection, the average being 25 days. In rare cases, it can take up to 6 months. For this reason, the CDC currently recommends testing 6 months after the last possible exposure (unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex or sharing needles). It would be extremely rare to take longer than 6 months to develop detectable antibodies. It is important, during the 6 months between exposure and the test, to protect yourself and others from further possible exposures to HIV.

The CDC National AIDS Hotline can provide more information and referrals to testing sites in your area. The Hotline numbers are 1-800-342-2437 (English), 1-800-344-7432 (Spanish), or 1-800-243-7889 (TTY).



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Frequently Asked Questions | Home | Index | Search | Site Map | En Español





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