6 weeks

Question

Dear Doctor: Cheers from Paris! I am pretty sure this is not the first time you have this sort of question but this time there is some scientific evidence to talk about... I took a risk on October 3rd with a prostitute. I did some HIV tests, including a last one by 6 weeks after the risk, which came out negative. I know the official delay is 90 days but there has been a lot of discussion recently about the validity of the 6 weeks combo test. In France, where I live, the High Health Authority (sort of CDC in the US) released recently a report recommending to reduce the official delay to 6 weeks, given the high performance of 4th generation test. This report was backed by various doctors and associations, and is being studied by the Ministry of Health (I can provide you with the link, although it is in French). Do you believe the 3 month test is still the only one 100% sure? What reliability can you give to a 4th generation test 6 weeks after the risk, taking into account these new studies? Are these discussions going on in the US?

Answer

Bonjour,

Organizations in France are not alone in recommending the "window period" for HIV seroconversion be shortened due to the increased sensitivity of the newer HIV testing techniques. Australia, for example, has also suggested six weeks is sufficient for a definitive HIV-antibody test result, barring any extenuating circumstances. As for discussions in the USA, yes, these are ongoing. However, there has been no formal change in the "three month" guideline yet. It's also worth pointing out that not everyone has access to the latest generation of testing assays. As for the reliability of fourth generation assays at six weeks, these studies are still ongoing as well. For now, the take-home message remains one of prevention! Use a condom and you won't have to worry whether your six-week test is conclusive or not! The three-month guideline remains the formal recommendation for now.

Ecrivez-moi dorénavant en français!

Bisettes et crêpes Suzette.

Dr. Bob