Anonymous
 
I made an awful mistake. I had unprotected vaginal sex with a woman of unknown status. Within a few weeks I was fatigued, had a couple nights where I had night sweats, those of which disappeared within a week or so. Then around the fifth week I developed a headache and swollen lymph nodes. The headache went away within two weeks but the swollen lymph nodes remain even now. (10 weeks after exposure). I also developed an ulcer on my bottom lip at the 9-10 week mark.
 
I had standard antibody tests done (3rd generation ELISA I assume). The first one was at 6.5 weeks(negative) and the second was done at 9 weeks (negative).
 
I have a couple questions. My 9th week test I tested for Hep B and C and mono, as well as HIV. All my tests except HIV came back within a couple of days. My HIV test took twice as long to come back. I'm worried that they needed to do a confirmatory test with a Western Blot and that its possible that there weren't enough antibody bands for the Blot to deem it conclusive. 
 
Does a doctor or lab have a mandate to report a positive result on an ELISA if the Western Blot deemed it negative? I'm very worried and anxious about this, simply because I have the clinical description of ARS (the lymph node in my neck and possibly an enlarged node in my groin(hard to tell).
 
My other question is ...why do some people seroconvert later? I am a 23 year old male with no history of chronic illness or anything like that. I smoked cigarettes for a long time and drink often but consider myself pretty healthy regardless.
 
Sorry about the length of this post, I have been suffering from severe anxiety.  Thank you for taking the time to read this. 
 
 
 
 
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Anonymous
 Hello and thank you for using AIDS Vancouver
 
 
Although having unprotected vaginal sex with an HIV+ woman is a high risk activity, according to spectrum health, the risk of HIV transmission from a 1 time exposure is 5 in 10 000. The body is sometimes able to fight off an HIV infection when it first encounters it (not all exposures lead to infection), however the more unprotected sexual encounters you have with an HIV+ person, the higher your risk will be for contracting HIV.
 
In regards to your symptoms, there is no way to know for sure whether or not a new HIV infection is the cause of them. Most symptoms that accompany a new HIV infection present themselves at 2-6 weeks and are similar to the symptoms of a flu. The only way to know your status for sure is to have a HIV test done.
 
Your negative tests done at 6.5 and 9 weeks are very good indicators of your status. Anytime after 4-6 weeks, 95% of infections are detectable with a standard antibody (blood) test. However, for conclusive results, international guidelines recommend that a confirmatory test is done 3 months (12 weeks or 84 days) post exposure for definitive results.
 
I spoke with a nurse at the BC Center for Disease Control on your behalf in order to inquire about testing times for Hep B, Hep C, Mono and HIV. The nurse advised me that usually, HIV tests are only run on certain days. This means that even if you had your blood drawn for an HIV test on a Monday (for example) and the run time (when they actually test the blood for HIV) could have to wait until a Friday (for example), and so your blood sample is waiting all week to be tested. It would then take a few days for the lab to finish the test and return the results to the clinic. The time it takes for results to come back can also be dependent on holidays, staffing etc.Please not that this time line will not skew your results in any way. The nurse advised me that the time it takes for a test to come back is not indicative of your status and it is not important that some of your tests came back before others.
 
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us again.
 
Regards,
Julia
AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer
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