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Had unprotected sex with an unknown hiv status man. Tests negative. How reliable are such tests?

My friend had unprotected sex 7 weeks back with a man she is not aware of his hiv status. She had sex with another man 4 years ago. she tested at a free gay community non-governmental clinic (she is heterosexual, not gay) in a small twn in indonesia and result is sad negative. how reliable such tests at such time at such a place would be?
Asked On : Tue, 20 Nov 2012
Answers:  1 Views:  105
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General & Family Physician 's  Response
Hello dear and welcome,

Doctors meet the anxious HIV questions on a regular basis and I shall try my best to help you as well.

There exists what we call a 'window period' between the time of contact (with an HIV infected person, or other modes of transmission) to detection.

This can be of two types as HIV is diagnosed in two possible ways.

1. Antibody testing: This is the most common test conducted in hospitals. This test looks for the antibodies to HIV, but not the virus itself. Antibodies are produced by the body once the infection enters the body, it is like a defense mechanism. Thus, this test looks for these antibodies that could have been produced in case the virus has entered the body.

For this test to detect the antibodies, it takes 3 months (normally), but at times can be detected as early as 1 month after contact. We advice to take it at 1, 3 and 6 months. This is a reliable test. This test can report the result the same day the sample was given.

2. RNA testing: This test looks for genetic material of the virus, and thus is more direct. But, unlike antibody testing, this test takes more time to produce the result (report). The lab takes at least 12-15 days to produce the report.

But, unlike the antibody test, this test can be conducted 10-12 days from contact.

Both these tests are reliable.

If your friend has passed the window period mentioned above, you could encourage her to undergo either one or both tests, for reassurance.

As mentioned by you, your friend experienced the contact 7 weeks ago. Which means it is better for her to undergo the RNA test as of now. And she could undergo an Antibody test after 12-15 weeks of contact have been completed.

Hope this information has helped you. You could write back to us for more clarifications.

Wishing you and your friend the best in health.
Answered: Wed, 21 Nov 2012
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