seroconversion illness, accuracy of rapid test

Originally Posted: 
Monday, September 17, 2012
Question: 

 

Once i had sex with a lady.i didn't know her status, therefore i decided to protect myself.but during the act she removed the condoms without my knowledge perhaps bcos it was my first time i didn't realize it.she told me she was having pains dat is why she removed it.3 weeks afterwards i started having excruciating (very severe) pains in my penis.it lasted for about 2 weeks and went away on its own.Through my internet search, i found out dat it could be a sign of seroconversion illness.Therefore i took a rapid test at 4 weeks and it was negative.i took another test at 3 months and 6 months and they were also negative.

 

1. My fear is dat is de pains i had in the penis not a seroconversion illness bcos it ocurred 3 weeks after exposure and went away on its own in 2 weeks.moreover i ve lost some weight and feel fatigued of late?

 

2. Could it be that at the time i tested de antibodies had not reached detectable levels?

 

3.How sure can i be that the rapid test used in my country (a developing

nation) is accurate?

Answer: 

 

Hello and thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver Online Helpline as your source of HIV/AIDS related information.

 

First, it is great to hear that you got tested for HIV after your high risk exposure.

 

I will attempt to answer your concerns in order:

 

1) We try and discourage people from researching their symptoms online, because 'seroconversion illness' or Acute Retroviral Syndrome, can vary widely from person to person. For example, usually someone will get a strong flu like illness, 2-6 weeks after infection but not all people do. In fact, there have been cases where someone took up to ten years to even show any signs of the disease. Also, because HIV symptoms mirror other viral infections (flu, etc.), or can be explained by other things, testing is the only way to know.

 

2) Most people develop detectable antibodies to the HIV virus in 21-25 days. The window period for the rapid test is 4 weeks to 3 months (although up to 95% of infections are detectable within 4-6 weeks). Therefore, it is very unlikely that your antibodies did not reach detectable levels at the time of your testing. Moreover, your tests at 3 and 6 months are considered conclusive for no current HIV infection; you are HIV negative!

 

3) You can rest assured that the internationally regulated rapid test you took in your developing country is accurate and reliable, given it was performed in a registered clinic by a health care provider.

 

Finally, if you haven't done so already, it may be a good time to get tested for other STI's (Chylmydia, Gonnorhea, Syphillis), as unprotected sex can pass these easily.

 

Please feel free to write back with any other concerns you may have at this time!

 

 

All the Best,

Elyse

AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer

E-mail: helpline@aidsvancouver.org

Phone (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm): (604) 696-4666

Web: www.aidsvancouver.org/helpline

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