Anonymous
1.How can aids not progress in months?
2.Isn't everyone's body different so it may happen at a different time for everyone?
3.Just because it usually takes years for hiv to turn into aids doesn't mean it's not possible for it to develop in months?

I'm sorry I'm just so paranoid that I have aids and it's not picking up on an antibody test [had a 3 month negative]. Please explain, whats the so called science behind the progression of hiv to aids. Anythings possible, I don't see why it can't progress quickly.
Thank you lots
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Anonymous
Hi and thank you for contacting AIDS Vancouver.

It's sounds like you're feeling uncertain and worried about the status of your HIV test.

I will try to explain the whole process of acquiring HIV to being diagnosed at having AIDS, and then I will answer your specific questions in order.

1. When a person first acquires HIV, the virus enters the bloodstream and begins to multiply. During this period (first 2-4 weeks after transmission) a large amount of the virus is produced in the body. The virus uses a type of cell in the body called CD4 cells to replicate itself, and after being used by the virus the CD4 cells get destroyed. Eventually the immune system catches on and brings the virus numbers down to a low and stable number - this is the viral set point. After this happens the CD4 cell numbers begin to increase again.

Then, there is something called a window period. This is when the body builds up antibodies, and it lasts from between 4 weeks to 3 months (depending on the individual). After this is the asymptomatic HIV period. During this time people generally look and feel healthy. In this stage the virus is living in the body without producing symptoms because, while it is active, it is reproducing at very low levels - at the viral set point that was mentioned earlier. This stage can last for up to 10 years in some people.

AIDS is the stage of infection that happens when your immune system is badly damaged. At this stage the body is vulnerable to infections. It can only be called AIDS if the body has 2 or more infections, which are called opportunistic infections.

So to answer your questions:

1. HIV doesn't show symptoms for a period because your immune system is able to bring the amount of the virus down to a low and stable number - the viral set point. It is in the 2-4 weeks after transmission that some people, but not all, develop temporary flu-like symptoms. However, it is important to know that these symptoms can look like the symptoms of many other conditions, so the only way to know for sure is to get an HIV test.

2. Yes, you're right, everybody's body is different. That is why you see a different asymptomatic HIV period length for different people. But , more than 99% of individuals will have enough antibodies for their test to be conclusive at 3 months.

3. It is not possible for AIDS to develop within months to our knowledge. But a resource for you to consider is the Centre for Disease Control HIV/AIDS hotline at: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), where they may be able to better answer questions about rare cases.

And to address your negative test result at 3 months. It is very unlikely that your test result will change. These tests are considered conclusive and over 99% accurate at 3 months. Though not necessary, if you are wanting some peace of mind it may benefit you to take another test.

I hope that I answered your questions, and if you have any more concerns please don't hesitate to post again.


Best,

Sabina

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

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604 253 0566 Ext. 299

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