Anonymous
Hi! Thanks for keeping up your excellent work and maintaining such a great support line for everyone concerned about HIV/AIDS.
My question pertains to HIV PCR test. One week after a possible exposure, I started developing a number of symptoms which could be associated with ARS. I was tested 15 days after the exposure - both with a PCR test and standard antibodies test (the latter administered just to rule out infection from previous exposures). Results of both tests came back negative, but I was also asked to return for a standard antibodies test 6 weeks post-exposure. I was wondering to what extent the PCR results at a 15-day mark were reliable and whether virus would be at the detectable level with ARS being in full swing, so to speak.
Grateful for your time and support!
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Anonymous
Hello Tim and thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver as your source of HIV-related information.

Symptoms merely indicate one's HIV status. In fact, there are no clinically defined symptoms of HIV. Thus testing is the only way to know one's HIV status. Acute Retroviral Syndromes (ARS) looks like a strong flu with high fever. Only some people may experience ARS 2-6 weeks after the point of infection but most people don't experience anything at all. You may have found a list of symptoms, but those symptoms may show up after living with HIV for 5-7 years, sometimes longer, without taking medication.

It is great to hear that you are taking initiative on your health and got tested when you felt it was necessary. A PCR test at 15 days is an indicator of your status and you may wish to take the result as conclusive and move on. However, because this test is not widely available in the world, including in Vancouver in which the AIDS Vancouver locates, I need to encourage you to retest again at/after 12 weeks to obtain a conclusive result, or follow the suggestion of testing at 6 weeks from the healthcare provider you have spoken with.

Hopefully you find the information helpful.
If you have any other questions/concerns, please feel free to write us back.

Stay healthy and keep smiling,
Yoshiko
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