11:18 pm - 10/14/2010

HIV testing at 5 weeks and retesting

I was tested for HIV about three weeks ago (approximately five weeks after my last sexual encounter). The test result came back negative.

I wasn't really concerned about anything until last night, when a girl I know said that she was suspicious that the last guy I had slept with (who she knows) is now injecting heroin. I don't know if this is 100% true, because he and I are no longer on speaking terms. This makes me a little uncomfortable, and so I want to get tested again for reliability. Even though I only slept with him twice and I know the transmission possibility is low, I was just wondering what the reliability is of a test at 5 weeks after possible exposure? Evidently, I am not sure how trustworthy the guy is anymore, so I'm just looking for some insight here.

Thanks everybody.
hadespuppy 15th-Oct-2010 04:22 am (UTC)
I believe that HIV can take a while to develop enough of a viral load to be detectable. You may want to get retested at 3 or 6 months out to be absolutely sure. That said, your chances of transmission are still quite low, even assuming he was an iv drug user prior to your encounter, and did have HIV.
littlemonster5 15th-Oct-2010 04:35 am (UTC)
I read lots of contradictory information that says at 5 weeks I should be comfortable with my result, blah blah, but that bomb of information sort of upset me. Sigh.
littlemonster5 15th-Oct-2010 04:36 am (UTC)
And by contradictory I don't mean against the 3 to 6 month window, but that there are various time frames of testing positive or negative.
eunicemcgee 15th-Oct-2010 04:48 am (UTC)
A nice strong immune system might start showing antibodies at 5 weeks, if there were an infection, but I've usually heard that it's best to wait at least 8 weeks. For people with weaker immune systems (typically meaning people who already have an illness that affects their immune system), it can take up to 3 months to develop antibodies (or in some really rare cases even longer). You might also want to look into getting tested for hepatitis. It really sucks to find out a reason to be unsure about a partner's status, but with only two encounters, you're probably just fine. Good luck with everything.
bachlava 15th-Oct-2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
First off, wishes of support: this must be a difficult time for you. You're correct that your risk of infection, while low, is not nonexistent, and testing early is a good strategy. According to the CDC, the majority of people who have contracted HIV will have developed detectable levels of antibodies and thus will test positive within 2-8 weeks, 97%-98% within three months, and virtually all within six.

Best wishes once again.
drownophelia 15th-Oct-2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
THIS.

i had a recent situation where i may have been exposed to HIV/AIDS and i got tested day-of, at 2.5 months, and will get tested at exactly 6 months to be absolutely certain.
jennifer0246 15th-Oct-2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
I used to work at a health center, and I performed rapid HIV tests. The statistic our clinic used was that well over 90% of people would seroconvert by 6 weeks post-exposure, and thus their test result at that interval could be considered accurate. The other 10% would take longer to seroconvert, and thus should be encouraged to retest at 6months post-exposure.

I had a whole binder of information to refer to during the counseling session, and when giving results. I think this binder lives somewhere in my attic now, but I'm not sure. I'll try to poke around and find it, and comment back if I'm successful.

(FWIW this was circa 2006ish in Massachusetts, and I'm not aware of any more current information or studies that have come out, so I believe those numbers to be accurate)
littlemonster5 15th-Oct-2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
I was tested today. Negative result. They told me to come back for testing in 6 months. I'm just wondering how reliable this is at 8 weeks. Thanks for your help!
jennifer0246 15th-Oct-2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
right, i did read your post, perhaps my comment was confusing?

AFAIK, over 90% of people seroconvert by 6w post-exposure. you're past that, at 8w, and your test was negative. i'd say that there is well over 90% chance your result is accurate, but to be safest, you should repeat the test at the 6m interval as recommended.
littlemonster5 16th-Oct-2010 03:30 am (UTC)
I agree with your comment. I felt relieved when I received the result, but the finger prick hurt so much! Lol :(
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