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Worried 2000

Hopkins / Window Period
      #5049 - 06/07/00 03:05 PM

Found the following post this morning on the window period. It's from Dr. Gallant from around 1999 or 1998. The question is about blood transfusions, but his answer is more about the window period.

Q: Having a relative who received a blood transfusion a few years ago makes me
wonder about the possibility of becoming infected through this procedure. I realize
all donations are screened very thoroughly. But, what if a donor is in the six month
window period and therefore, tests do not detect infection. And isn't true that a lot
of previous HIV cases (before 1985) were through transfusions. What is the
percentage currently? Even one in a million is too many!

Also, I know of people who are afraid to donate blood anymore for fear of
contracting HIV in that situation. Have there ever been any cases in becoming
infected while donating? Or is that fear just ignorance?

Please respond to the risks involved in both giving and receiving. Thank you.

A: I gave the statistics in another recent answer. Remember, it is not a six month
window period. The average person seroconverts (positive ELISA plus Western
blot) within 3 to 12 weeks, and most will have a positive ELISA (which would
cause the blood to be thrown out) even before that. We throw "six months" around
as the point at which someone can stop being worried about a previous exposure,
but it is just about inconceivable that an infected person would take that long to
develop a reactive ELISA antibody test.

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Worried 2000

Re: Hopkins / Window Period new
      #5051 - 06/07/00 03:20 PM

Here's another:

Dear Dr. Gallant,

Q: 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...

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

A: 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

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Re: Hopkins / Window Period new
      #5054 - 06/07/00 04:22 PM

GREAT! Now if you believe it the stop the worry and get on with life!!!!!!
Every day you worry about it is a day less you live!!! Even if you have it! LIVE,HAVE A GOOD LIFE!

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Jedi Master

More good news but yet bad news... new
      #5058 - 06/07/00 04:45 PM

Ok, still here is one of Dr. Gallant favorites q&a:

Hi dr g,I feel the need to write in because i notice how many people still want to know why some say a 3 month test is close to 0 conlcusive then look at replies on sites like this and see some people don't seroconvert until 6 months. My doctor made a good comment regarding this (and it did help ease my anxiety) and i though it may help some of your readers. One thing to keep in mind when you hear people say they seroconverted at 6 months is 1) most of them really don't know the date of infection. 2) more importantly many of them don't test at 3 and 6 months but rather at just 6. So, many of them may have actually tested positive at 3 they just don't realize it. He even said (and you would probably agree with this dr g) that a case of someone realistically seroconverting at 5 to 7 months after infection is so rare that if it were proven to be true it would probably be studied and documented to check for any abnormalities to help future testing. I hope this helps some of your readers. I admit i was panick ridden and lost sleep over my test at 3 months. I had mononucleosis and thought that mono would delay the production of antibodies for hiv. I then tested negatvie at 5 1/2 months for hiv. Since i had a lot of joint/muscle pain all over my body and swollen lymph nodes it was even more anxiety on me because it was like a constant reminder that i may still be hiv +. But one thing i've learned through all this is to put your faith in the blood test(s) not the symptoms. They are MUCH more accurate.thanksgary from michigan

Thanks Gary, I agree completely. I almost deleted this question without reading it based on the title, because it's such a tired and worn-out subject. I'm glad I read it.I should add that I've also seen a few cases in which people insisted that they were infected six months before the positive test, because the exposure they had six months ago was somehow more socially or psychologically acceptable to them than the exposure they had one or two months ago.

And the bad news: (this is a very recent one)

i have a question which i think i can safely say has not been addressed yet. Dr. Gallant, you say that testing at three and six months is the best policy for sexually active people. My question is this: When testing at three months, is the result usually correct in the long run? If a test is negative at three months, could one safely say that 99 percent of the time the tested individual will also be negative at six months? Many schools of thought exist on this subject, and the ones that i have seen seem to contradict one another. Some sources say that it takes 2-12 weeks for the human body to make antibodies for HIV, and some say it can take the full six months on a regular basis. If the first is accurate, then i would assume that a three-month test would be sufficient. Please shed some light on the subject, as i think if you do, the incessant "window period" questions may cease. Thank you in advance for your great service, whether you choose to answer this or not.

There are not two schools of thought on this least not two correct ones. It is well know that 95-99% of people who are HIV-positive will have seroconverted by three months. Thus, a three month test is highly accurate, but not definitive.

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Re: Hopkins / Window Period new
      #5059 - 06/07/00 04:48 PM

Thanks for the post, very informative!!

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Re: Hopkins / Window Period thanks worried 2000 new
      #5076 - 06/07/00 11:00 PM

I truely do respect Gallant's opinion. How did you find that old response? Do you see how confident and direct his information is. I believe his information more than any other site. He is not biased by a particular agenda or Institutional platform. He's just pure doctor.
Great post. I need to hear those every so often.
Hope all is well with you worried 2000 - let us know about that bar!
Also, if you find other posts by Gallant like that, paste them in. That one was a GEM!

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Jedi Master

TO DUDE: new
      #5079 - 06/07/00 11:14 PM

DUDE, you can find all of this Dr. Gallant's post at, q&a question, category: hiv testing.

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