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.
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.