[Question #690] Window period / symptoms

53 months ago
Hi dr

I hope you can help I've got pricked by a needle 8 weeks, I got tested at 4 and 6 weeks both came back negative (4th generation) but a couple of days ago I had a bad throat for a day was the better the next day and had a little sniffles but no mucus and I'm worried it could be  sero converting? As I look at a question someone put up about having a really bad throat  and dr hhh replied saying HIV gives you a mild sore throat! Like mine! I was just wondering how many weeks after an exposure can you  sero convert and are my symptoms likely to be from that and how long can you have symptoms for? Just really worrying! Thank you.
53 months ago
Sorry I also read dr hhh said its 4-6 weeks for conclusive results but on other questions you say it's defientaly conclusive after 4 weeks? I'm confused and slightly worried because mine was a couple of days before the 6 weeks
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
53 months ago
Ifyou are the same "Chris" who asked other questions recently, it is apparent you are having trouble understandingor believing the replies you had. You seem to be particularly hung up on the time to reliable test results (window period"). You are also searching as many other discussions you can find, on this website and perhaps others, and looking for what you think are discreprencies in our replies.

As you were told already, your current test results prove without doubt you did not catch HIV during the needle injury 8 weeks ago. ARS symptoms like sore throat never start more than 10-20 days after the exposure, so any symptoms at this time cannot be HIV from the event, no matter how mild or severe. It is not possible to seroconvert this late, especially with the 4th generation tests. And no matter when the symptoms occur, of course common colds and other standard viral infections are thousands of times more frequent than ARS. No matter when they occur, such symptoms almost always are due to common colds, not ARS. That's what you have:  a cold.

As for time to conclusive test results, most experts consider 4 weeks definitive, but others are more conservative and say 6 weeks. So it isn't surprising that written estimates may say either one, or might sometimes be stated as "4-6 weeks". 

You do not have HIV. It is not normal for you to be so frightened about it after the repeated, reasoned, science based advice you have had. It's as if you're hoping to prove us wrong by showing us you have HIV after all. We will not play that game. If you remain worries, you are free to be tested again and again, as many times and for as long as you wish. But a smarter approach would be to seek professional counseling about why you're having such trouble with this.

Repetative, anxiety driven questions are not permitted on the forum, so please do not start any new threads on this topic. They would be deleted without reply (and without refund of the posting fee.)

Good luck.  HHH, MD

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53 months ago
Ok thank you, just find it hard with so many different opinions, I know people would let go but when I got pricked by the needle it caused a lot of worry for me and to see so many different opinions it's hard to believe which one, that is why I've asked you guys as your best in the business! I worry that even tho I tested negative at 5 weeks and 5 days that's still 2 days before the 6 week window period I know I'm worrying a lot and must annoy you but this reassure more.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
53 months ago
Look at it this way. No matter how different the opinions may have been, your original exposure apparently had almost no risk of infecting you -- I don't know the details, but that's what was implied in your discussions with Dr. Hook. So let's say there was one chance in 100,000 you were infected. Now let's assume a 4 week duo test is "only" 99% sensitive, i.e. one percent of infected people will sneak through with a negative result. Still, that negative result reduced the chance you have HIV from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 10 million (0.00001 x 0.01 = 0.0000001). And what if the test really is only 98% sensitive, i.e. misses 2% of infections? That would put your chance of having HIV at one chance in 5 million. Is that really any different than 1 in 10 million?

The exact numbers don't matter. The point is that the chance you have HIV is low enough that any normal person would accept it as zero risk and would not feel any need for additional testing to be more certain. That's why possible minor difference in test performance between say 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks simply don't matter in situations like yours.

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53 months ago
Ok thanks dr sorry for the questions 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
53 months ago
No need for apology, and sorry if my tone implied it. Take care and stay safe.

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