Anonymous
If someone recently got hiv and hasn't started medicine yet and has unprotected sex with you is it likely to get hiv from them? This is my situation, since I had a high risk exposure is a test at three months still conclusive? even though I have so many symptoms that are not going away? I am so worried that the test is not picking up antibodies and that I really am infected. I don't want to have hiv and be walking around having this virus destroy me without knowing! since it is science and hiv test are NOT 100% accurate how can we know for sure that people truly aren't infected? Can you explain to me how they know almost everyone will have detectable antibodies by 3 months? How they know hiv doesn't progress to aids within months? How do they know if something is a hiv related symptom or not? Since it is science there is room for error and I don't want to be the one that is told I am negative when I actually am positive!! I seriously feel like I can't trust my test results at three months and I need to keep testing, no one understands what I am going through and thinks I am being irrational about everything. But now the person I had sex with who is hiv positive says that he might have gave me hiv and I really think I have it but my test at three months did not pick anything up!! I don't know what to do next to try to figure things out because my doctor doesn't really know why these symptoms are happening either and is doing all these things to try and figure it out but so far everything is coming back fine, how could it not be hiv than?! I just want to feel better already all this chaos with my health and symptoms has been going on for many months now and I am tired of everything
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Anonymous
Hello, thank your for contacting AIDS Vancouver and I am happy to help answer your questions.

It sounds like you have been very distressed over your concerns about your test results, and I am sorry to hear you have been living in discomfort. I am here to provide you the up-to-date information that we have here at AIDS Vancouver, and I hope that this information will help you feel less distress.

You had multiple questions in your post, so I will answer them one by one:

1. You mentioned you have been experiencing many symptoms, and that they are still not going away. How do you know if something is an HIV related symptom or not?

We do not look at any symptoms as indicators of HIV because any symptom can look like symptoms of other viral infections- for example, the flu. But there is one thing we know, and that is if symptoms were HIV related, they only appear during the *seroconversion period*, which is 2-6 weeks after your infection. So, because your symptoms have been continuing for more than 3 months it seems highly unlikely that they are related to HIV. It seems that you been feeling discomfort for a long time, I suggest you continue partnering with health professionals for those concerns.

2. How can we know for sure that people are not truly infected through testing? How does testing know that everyone will have detectable antibodies by 3 months?

It is great to hear that you have been tested already, as testing is the only way to know your HIV status for sure. It is true that people develop antibodies at different speeds, but this is why every test has a *testing window period*. All antibody tests (3rd Generation EIA test, Rapid/Point-of-Care test, 4th Generation/DUO test) have a testing window period of 4-6 weeks, and conclusive results at 3 months. This long period of time of 3 months for conclusive results is to make sure that we cover these individual differences in developing antibodies.

Most people will have developed antibodies by 3 months, and so the tests results are *final* at this point. The *only* people who do not fit into this category are people who are taking: (1) Antiviral treatment for Hep C, (2) Treatment for Cancer, (3) P.E.P. treatment for HIV, (4) other immunodeficiency diseases.

If you do not fit into any of the 4 situations above, your test results are *conclusive* at 3 months after exposure.

3. How do you know HIV does not progress into AIDS within months?

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease) is a health condition for people who have been living with HIV for a *long* time. This the final stage of HIV in which, this condition will definitely be detected by testing. As you have not been living with HIV for a *long* time, you do not have to worry about AIDS.

It is common to have doubts in science. However these tests are widely used, and have been proved to have high accuracy from a large number of tests. Here at AIDS Vancouver we also make sure to keep up-to-date with the information that we provide, and we make sure that they are accurate.

I would also like to mention that if you are in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive, or planning to be, and you reside in BC, we have a program specifically to help people who are at risk for HIV. The program may support you and your partner with various resources. If you would like to know more about this Health Promotion Case Management Program, please call or email us at the Helpline (helpline@aidsvancouver.org - 604 253 0566) and we will help refer you to the program.

I hope that this information helps you have a piece of mind, and understand your test results better. If you would like more information, please visit our website (www.aidsvancouver.org) or contact us anytime.

All the best,

Risa, Helpline Volunteer

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online

Monday-Friday 10am-4pm (PST)

604 253 0566 Ext. 299

Private and Confidential


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