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Window Period for Rapid Tests
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An_253447 posted:
About five weeks ago, I had sex with someone in a monogamous relationship. We only had anal sex once, with a condom, I was the top/active partner, and I didn't come inside him. We had oral sex a few times, but we never came in each other's mouths. He contacted me a few days ago to tell me that his boyfriend tested positive after suffering from the symptoms of acute HIV infection. The person I had sex with tested negative, but his was an antibody test whereas his boyfriend's was the more accurate type of test. The boyfriend says he's never slept with anyone outside of their year-long relationship, but I'm very doubtful that he's telling the truth. The person I slept with also says that I'm the only one he's slept with in the last year other than his boyfriend (I'm more inclined to trust him since I actually know him, but I guess he could also not be telling the truth). A couple days ago, I got a rapid test at Planned Parenthood, and it came back negative. I know that at this point (5 weeks later), it's statistically very unlikely that the test was a false negative. Especially if, according to his theory, I got HIV from someone else before I slept with him, since the last person I slept with before him was 6 weeks ago and we only had oral sex, again with no ejaculate in anyone's mouth. The last time I had anal sex was two months before my negative result and we used a condom. I know, from other helpful responses on this forum, how accurate a test is when carried out this many weeks later, but I guess I just can't shake the nervousness from that <5% chance.


My question, though, involves something the nurse said when she was administering the rapid test. She described the window period for the test, and I was surprised to hear her say it was much shorter than what I was expecting: three weeks. I'd never heard of a rapid test with such a short window, and I was wondering if that was an accurate statement. I'd heard something about the FDA approving a new rapid test that looked for antigens as well as antibodies, but I'm not sure if that's what the nurse was talking about or if she was simply mistaken. If she's right, then I'll feel even more confident in my negative result, but if she's not, I'll probably go to the doctor and see if they can do a test that's more accurate than the antibody one.


In case the question got buried in these paragraphs: Is three weeks a reasonable window period for rapid tests?
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georgiagail responded:
The recommended time period for testing remains 12 weeks.

However, your event with this person (the one time anal sex) was protected; i.e., a condom was used (and, I'm assuming, it was used accurately and did not break or tear). The virus cannot cross an intact latex barrier.

Oral sex, in itself, carries an extremely low risk of HIV transmission. The statistics we use for ESTIMATED risk with unprotected oral sex are .5 to 1 per 10,000 exposures with a source KNOWN to carry the virus.

Gail


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