« Go Back

HIV test response delay due to flu medicine

Question: 

Dear all,

First, thank you so much for your replies, you website helps a lot!

My questions: I have read the reasons that are supposed to delay HIV testing (4th generation). But for example different antiviral meds are also used against simple flu, cold, etc. (interferon, etc.). They are also used to treat HVC. Of course we usually don't treat flu or cold so seriously and with so many meds as HVC. But in a case a person has HIV combo testing after 6 weeks of exposure (as many doctors say, they are conclusive) and don't get HVC treatment, cancer treatment, doesn't take PEPs, but took some drugs against flu or herpes for example, can his window period be prolonged?

Many thanks!!

Answer: 

Hello,

Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about if antiviral medications used to treat the flu or HCV could affect the window period of a 4th Generation Ag/Ab HIV Test (Combo Test).

Various treatments, such as chemotherapy, could affect the window period of an HIV test as they cause the individual to become extremely immunocompromised, resulting in a lower potential of antibody production. PEP could also increase the window by preventing the virus from replicating enough to produce antibody during the 4 weeks of taking PEP, although if HIV were present it would be detectable by 6 weeks post-PEP (1).

It may seem logical to think that taking an anti-viral medication to treat the flu or herpes could have an affect on the window period of a newly acquired HIV infection as it, like the flu or herpes, is also a virus. But, it is important to note that no two viruses are exactly alike, and thus the treatments used are quite different. A flu medication, such a Tamiflu, prevents newly made virus from being released from the cell it has infected by targeting a specific protein on the outside of the flu virus, thus stopping new cells from being infected and eventually stopping the infection altogether (2). Acyclovir, a medication used to treat Herpes, prevents the virus from creating more of itself by preventing it from replicating its DNA (3). These two drugs have very different mechanisms of action that are specific to the type of virus they are targeting. There is no overlap between these drug targets and HIV, thus they would not affect the window period of an HIV infection.

Regards, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Marie