Despite everything, can I regard myself as conclusively HIV-negative after several NHS tests since high-risk unsafe sex in early June 2013?

Hi, I got drunk at a party in continental Europe in early June 2013 and had unsafe sex with an unknown partner, from which I acquired penile gonorrhea (I discovered this a few days later). 3-4 weeks later, I developed acute diarrhoea for 3 days, accompanied by mild fever and sweating, day and night. Since then (more than 3 months) I have been sweating a lot and often feeling hot/skin warm to touch, my temperature varying between about 36.5c/97.7f early morning to occasionally 37.5c/99.5f in the evening.

I have had HIV tests at the following timescales, all carried-out by the same NHS GUM clinic: 42 days after sexual encounter, 51 days, 86 days and 113 days. I have not had any sexual contact since I caught the gonorrhea.

I am confused about window periods and the accuracy of tests - there is too much conflicting information online and it is hard to know what accurate, reliable and official sources. For example, I have seen online that it sometimes takes people longer than 12 weeks or even 6 months to test positive, even using modern tests. Is this true???

Would it be true to say that, if the symptoms I mentioned above had anything to do with HIV, I would have tested positive?

Can I be assured that, with all of these negative tests carried-out in a UK hospital GUM clinic, I am definitively and conclusively HIV-negative?

Thank you for your assistance.

2 Replies

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  • In short in the UK NHS the majority of clinics do a "fourth generation" HIV test (also known as the DUO test), if this is negative after four weeks your can be reasonably sure that it will stay negative. After 12 weeks have passed since the event then you can be DEFINATELY be sure that the HIV test is truly negative.

    A few clinics in the UK use the HIV antibody test only (third generation test), you can only be definitely sure it's negative after 12 weeks have passed (though in reality it will probably show something after a month).

    There are tests for other things that you may have been exposed to.. the Syphilis and hepatitis B blood tests are conclusively negative after 12 weeks have passed. There is debate around the hepatitis C blood test, most would be happy with a negative test after 12 weeks but some recommend testing 6 months after the event as (rarely it can take longer for the test to show anything). If you are worried about hep C you can ask your GP/sexual health clinic to do a "RNA" test which shows things up earlier.

    So in answer to your question, whatever test was used if 12 weeks has passed you can trust the NHS HIV test totally.

  • Thank you, Charliejoe.

    The hospital concerned uses 4th genetation tests routinely.

    For the most recent test, the blood sample was also tested for HepC (I have been immunised against A&B) and also for syphilis, and these also returned negative results.

    I think my continual quest for reassurance has stemmed from those suspicious symptoms, but also all the info on the web. There is too much of it and those official-looking sites and doctors talking about testing at 6 months or even longer just feeds continuing anxiety and a feeling that this saga will be never-ending!

    Just one more thing if you or anyone else can verify: I read a report that said the UK has never recorded a 12 week negative HIV test turning positive later from the same exposure.

    It would be great to know that that is true!

    Thanks again for your time and reassurance!

    G.

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