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The window period debate, logic behind statements, help?
SMS087 posted:
I had a risky exposure (unprotected vaginal sex, condom breakage and I didn't notice) and I'm having trouble accepting my negative test results due to the fact there is so much conflict in regard to the window period debate of three vs. six months for a definitive, conclusive test. All the clinics I've ever been tested at say 3 months and I understand that anyone can put anything on the internet but the majority of websites throughout a google search state that 6 months is the absolute golden rule (however, there are a lot that state 3 months is, but there are more that state the 6 month deal).[br>[br>Also, many websites tend to say "the 6 month rule only applies to people who have been exposed to someone who they know is HIV positive." This statement doesn't sit well with me because in my case and I am sure many other cases, I simply do not know if the person was indeed positive or negative and the fact that I asked them once to get tested and they refused makes me seriously wonder. I was told you have to assume everyone could possibly have HIV and if that's the case wouldn't 6 months be warranted? [br>[br>I've also read the "test at 6 months due to compromised immune system such as people who are going through chemo, had an organ transplant, etc" but the people I have seen post this aren't medical professionals and I have never seen this in any official documents that relate to window periods and testing. [br>[br>If someone could please help me sort through this with supporting evidence to back up the 3 months is acceptable rule it would be greatly appreciated. God bless.
Nieciedo responded:
How much longer do you have to wait until 6 months?

Because I don't think at this point you will get an answer that completely satisfies your concerns.

HIV tests look for antibodies produced by the body to fight off HIV. If a test is done and there are no antibodies, then there are three possibilities:

1. The person doesn't have HIV.
2. The person has HIV but hasn't produced enough antibodies yet to trigger a positive reaction in a test
3. The person has no functioning immune system and should really be either hospitalized or dead.

It's #2 that is the kicker. Different people produce antibodies at different rates and it will take different people different lengths of time to produce enough so that any random sample of blood will contain enough HIV antibodies to trigger a test.

Practically everyone will have produced enough to test positive by 6 weeks, so the rest of the window period is really to catch as many outliers as possible.

Another factor is the probability of risk. I'm not sure if you're a man or a woman, but in general the average estimated risk of infection from what you describe is somewhere less than 1 in 2,000 for men and about 1 in 1,000 for women assuming the other person was known to be HIV-positive. If their status is unknown, then that throws another variable into the mix that decreases the likelihood.

For me, a negative 3 month test after this kind of encounter would be sufficient to say "No, you're not infected." But I'm not you. If you can hang on until 6 months to get tested to ease your fears, then do it.

SMS087 replied to Nieciedo's response:
Thanks for the reply Dan. I'm a male by the way, lol... but I made it past three months (around 105 days the day I got tested) so technically from today I have 70-some odd days from 6 months. I just hate the stress and the constant worry of "what if's."

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