[Question #7636] Testing and medications

2 months ago
Dear doctors, 
It has been almost a year since my last question and thanks to my last interaction with Dr Handsfield I have reached out to a therapist who has helped me work through alot of my health anxiety related problems and I would say I'm on the right track. I have for the most part stopped putting myself in such risky situations and as a result I am in a good place generally in my life. 

I did have a slight relapse on December 4th of 2020 in which I put myself in a risky situation and I was wondering if I could get some clarity in understanding HIV testing as a whole. During said risky exposure I was taking antihistamines and steroids(forgot the exact name of the steroid but it was oral) as I was recovering from a very bad cold. In doing research on this site and in my previous interaction with Dr handsfield I have come to learn that "no medications or illnesses can interact with the reliability of the 4th gen tests" My question: (which I hope can serve as both an educational tool for myself and for others) is would those auto immune suppressants if taken at the time of a possible infection delay the 42day period in any way? I have received both negative tests on day 42 and on day 60 and I do believe them. I am just wondering if delayed secroversion is a real thing or if it is a holdover myth from previous gen testing. 

I do understand the policy on anxiety driven questioning, and by no means am I trying to break policy.  Questions in regards to these particular drug's interactions with the hiv testing timeline on the internet and with my actual doctor are murky to say the least. So I'm coming to professionals who are experts in this field. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
2 months ago

Welcome back to the Forum. It's nice to see that you have sought the care of a therapist and taken steps to not put yourself into situations which concern you or promote your anxiety. 

You don't mention the nature of the exposure that has concerned you so I cannot comment on that specifically but I do note that in the past you have judged situations to be risky when, in fact, they wee not.  Regarding your test results, I can absolutely assure you that antihistamines would have NO effect whatsoever on development of a positive HIV test result, had you acquired the infection.  There is a small theoretical risk pf modest delay in antibody production for persons who have been taking oral steroid medications for a prolonged period at the time of exposure.  However, anyone who was only taking steroids for less than a week or two would be expected to have a normal response to infection and all such persons would have positive 4th generation HIV tests at any time more than 6 weeks following exposure. the concept of delayed seroconversion is an internet-fueled myth which should be ignored. 


I hope this clarifies thinks. Take care, believe your test results.  They are reliable. EWH

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2 months ago
Thank you for your response Dr. 
My exposure is generally unknown due to my intoxicated state which is why I did not really say what exactly it was.  From what I do remember I would say it was nothing more than a handjob which I know is a nonrisk for HIV or mostly any other std. But to do my due diligence, and mostly because my catholic school education drilled into my head that the only safe sex is abstinence(an idea that I am now coming to terms with as not being entirely true!) I did decide to go forward with testing. 

At the time of said exposure I was on my second round of oral steroids. Which according to your reply if Im understanding correctly would not have an effect on my testing timeline and would make my 42 day and 61 day test conclusive. Did I understand that correctly?

Again thank you for all that you and the staff do to provide expert advice in a prompt and professional manner. It really is amazing that this venue exists and the duration in which you've been providing such a service. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
2 months ago
You are correct both in your statement that the possible exposure was a no risk event and that your test results are conclusive and reliable.  EWH ---