HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Oral Rapid Test @ 8 weeks
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Oral Rapid Test @ 8 weeks

Hello Doctor,

I have seen so much conflicting information on the internet that I just do not know what to believe. Can you please help me?

I was tested for HIV @ 8 weeks (56 days) after what I consider to be a risky situation. (I'd rather not elaborate, but there was blood involved). I was tested with a rapid oral swab test and  was given a negative result. My questions:

1. Is this test at the 8 week mark conclusively negative for HIV or do I need re-testing with a blood lab test?
2. Is the oral swab test just as accurate as other tests?
3. Why is there so much info saying that only a 12 week test is conclusive, but then other people say a test @ 6 weeks is enough?

I hope you can clear up the confusion and give me straight answers.

Thanks.
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Welcome to the forum. I'll try to help.

It is true that you can find lots of conflicting information about the reliability of negative HIV test results at various intervals after exposure.  However, you can reduce those conflicts by limiting your sources to professionally sponsored sites.

Here are two threads you should look at.  The first goes into all this in great detail, and the second explains why many official agencies continue to advise antibody testing at 3 months even though the current tests almost always are positive by 6-8 weeks.

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/HIV-Prevention/Confused-over-testing/show/719310
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/HIV-Prevention/-A-Question-on-Testing/show/1347755

To your specific questions:

1) Your negative result at 8 weeks is almost certainly 100% reliable.

2) Negative rapid tests, both oral and blood, are equally reliable as lab-based testing.  The main difference with the rapid tests is a higher risk of a false-positive result, but that's not an issue when the test is negative.

3) See the second of the two threads I have cited.

Regards--  HHH, MD
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