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Hepatitis C affecting the HIV window period

i get tested twice for almost 8months one is with oraquick and the other is  standard antibody test..what if i have hep c.. i got 6 big tattoo all over my body im afraid that i might catch hepatitis due to this...does the negative result of my hiv test prove that im really negative.. i  read this article that the window period of hiv become 1 year if you have hep c...how true is this please help me find answer..thanks a lot

Hepatitis C affecting the HIV window period

This is another question I see asked very often. Many people are afraid of being co-infected with HCV and HIV. After reading reports that HVC affects the HIV window period, they begin to suspect the validity of their HIV test results. Let’s find out the truth.
All this hullabaloo stems from a MMWR published by the CDC on 29th June 2001 titled Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis.
In this report, it is stated that ‘Extended HIV follow-up (e.g., for 12 months) is recommended for HCP who become infected with HCV following exposure to a source coinfected with HIV and HCV.’ In other words, ONLY in people acutely infected with HCV will the window period for HIV testing change.
So the real question to ask, if you really think this applies to you, is this: How can you tell if a person is infected with HCV?
Are there any symptoms of acute HCV infection? Most people actually suffer NO symptoms. Even if they have symptoms, it is usually mild and vague e.g. fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and rarely jaundice. So the absence or presence of symptoms is no help at all.
You can test for HCV. The common cheaper test to do is the EIA antibody test. This is frequently accurate 8 weeks post exposure but might take up to 15 weeks. And there is the more expensive HCV RNA PCR test that can be done 4 to 6 weeks post exposure.
So if all these test come back clear for HCV, we can then conclude a person does NOT have HCV infection and therefore the window period for HIV testing will NOT be affected. If any of these tests come back positive, then a person is diagnosed with acute HCV infection and the HIV window period will be prolonged.
That said, is there a real need to be worried about HCV infection in the first place? HCV is mostly transmitted through needle sticks i.e. sharing of needles in drug users, needle stick injuries, contaminated tattoo needles, sharing razors, acupuncture etc. Less than 5% of HCV infections are due to high risk sexual exposure.
So if you really feel that you are at risk of both HCV and HIV, talk to your doctor about getting tested for HCV. If you are clear for HCV, then you do not need to worry about the window period for HIV being prolonged. If you test positive for HCV then you will need to see a Liver Specialist for further treatment. Also your HIV testing window period should be extended to 12 months.
5 Responses
Avatar universal
Your test was conclusive and HIV HepC co-infection does not delay the window period,that information was wrong.
Avatar universal
so you are saying that this doctor is giving the wrong information about the window period....but how he came up with this kind of idea his a doctor
480448 tn?1426952138
There are theories in the medical field that a person exposed to BOTH HIV and HCV at the same time COULD delay antibody production for HIV.  Again, this is more or less a theory, and this doesn't include people who were previously infected with HCV.  It applies to a person seroconverting to both infections.

In my experience, even those reputable ID docs who put some stock in this theory STILL do not recomend testing past the official window period of 3 months.  WHY?  Because MOST newly infected HIV patients actually test positive fairly quickly, within weeks to a month or so post exposure.  Therefore, the 3 month standard would still be adequate.  There would NEVER be a need for ANYONE to test out to 12 months post exposure, and rarely, some would be advised to test to 6 months (those who are severely immunocompromised).  Even THOSE people (people with virtually NO immune system) almost always test + within the 3 month period.  If anything could potentially delay HIV seroconversion, it would be a person who is immunocompromised.  If THOSE people are testing within the window period, then it's safe to assume there is NO condition in which a person would need so much extra time to produce antibodies.

Therefore, it would be unnecessary for you to test beyond the window period.  Also, it is unlikely these days that you would get HCV from a tattoo, unless you had it done in jail, or in some other environment that was not clean, or in a parlor that does not adhere to health standards.

There is a much easier solution for your concern than taking HIV tests past the window period.  You test for HCV.  Obviously, if a new HCV infection isn't identified, your worry is unfounded.

What was your HIV risk anyway?

Avatar universal
hi nursegirl my risk was unprotected sex with a girl (10 months ago) and oral sex with CSW but it was brief less than a minute i received BJ from her.i know that i dont need to worry about receiving oral sex.what im thinking is the unprotected sex..my  recent tattoo was done 2 months ago the rest was 3 years ago.never had HCV test since then.but i do have anti hepa A & B vaccine..the last HIV test i had was 2 months ago 4 weeks after the oral sex encounter..
Avatar universal
You do not have an HIV concern.
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