About PEP and Antibody Testings

Question

Hi doc,

I have been looking through the archives and I see that you say that the PEP treatment does not affect rapid antibody tests. However, I was wondering if that means that if I took the PEP treatment and got a rapid HIV test at 6 weeks and it came out negative, it is as reliable as if I did not go on the PEP treatment and tested negative at 6 weeks. Thank you so much for doing what you are doing. I read an article about you and I really admire your strength and how you handled everything you have been through. I just tested negative at 6 weeks from possible exposure and will be going back for a followup at 12 weeks and 6 months. (I was on the PEP treatment).

Answer

Hi,

The guidelines for post-PEP HIV testing include HIV-antibody testing at six weeks, three months and six months.

We don't have good data on the validity of a six-week test post-four weeks of antiretroviral therapy (typical course of PEP) compared to a six-week test without antiretrovirals, because routine HIV screening tests are not usually recommended until three months. Certainly, your negative six-week test is very encouraging, but you'll still need the three- and six-month tests to WOO-HOO! OK?

Good luck.

Dr. Bob