Anonymous
I had unprotected sex with a male about eight times from January 2014 to May 2014. He claimed to be HIV negative. Eight weeks after my last possible exposure, I experience a short-lived and very mild sore throat with a swollen submandibular lymph node. The doctor diagnosed me with viral pharyngitis and prescribed prednisone. About a week after the sore throat, I had diarrhea three times and began experiencing a strange bone pain. Currently (23 weeks post last exposure), some of my neck lymph nodes are still swollen and causing pain occasionally. Also, my bone pain has never gone away. I've also noticed easy bruising. While having these symptoms, I got several tests done through LabCorp:

8 weeks - HIV Antibody (negative)
9 weeks - HIV RNA Qualitative (negative)
11 weeks - HIV 4th Generation Antibody/Antigen (negative)
13 weeks - HIV Antibody (negative)
19 weeks - HIV Antibody (negative)

My Questions:

The United States' CDC writes that 97% of people will develop HIV antibodies within 3 months of exposure. In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months for antibodies to be detectable. Is this accurate or outdated information?

I've read in many places that 3 months post exposure is conclusive. What is the true window period?

Do late seroconverters usually have a weak immune system? That is, are they limited to individuals with autoimmune disorders, viral hepatitis, frequent drug injectors, chemotherapy patients, and so on?

If I am HIV positive and in the window period, wouldn't my HIV RNA and 4th Generation Ab/Ag tests have come back reactive?

Lastly, do I need to have a followup test at 6 months post exposure? The CDC states that a six month followup test might be considered if the patient had a KNOWN exposure. My partner repeatedly claimed to be HIV negative, but you can't believe everything.
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Anonymous
Hi there,

Thank you for choosing the AIDS Vancouver Helpline as your source of information.

As far as your first question goes, the great majority of people will develop HIV antibodies within 3 months of exposure. Very rarely will it take more than 3 months, and I surely can't emphasize enough the unlikelihood of that happening.

Different HIV tests have different window periods. As per the World Health Organization's guidelines of testing, HIV tests are all conclusive at 3 months post possible exposure.

We here at the AIDS Vancouver Helpline are not doctors, and it is important to recognize that. Thus, in regards to your question about late seroconversion and the immune system, we suggest you reach out to a health care professional in your area.

There are some criteria under which is suggested that one would get retested at 6 months. Those include: undergoing chemotherapy, undergoing Hepatitis treatment, being on PEP or PrEP, having a pre-existing immunodeficiency disorder (not HIV related).

Based on the information you have provided, we don't think you're HIV positive. The tests you have undergone are an accurate indication of your status.

We follow the World Health Organization's guidelines for testing. If none of the above conditions for re-testing at 6 months apply to you, then there is no need to get retested.

In health,

Moe, AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer.
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