HIV Window Period

HIV window period is the time between the contraction of the disease and production of the antibodies. It can be named as the first or the initial stage of HIV infection. HIV test, conducted during the window period cannot detect any traces of HIV antibodies and the result of such antibody tests, like ELISA, Rapid Test or the Western Blot, would be fallaciously negative. On an average, the window period lasts for 2 to 12 weeks. A HIV test proves positive only after the termination of the HIV window period when enough anti bodies have been produced within our system.

HIV Window Period States:

Since a test during the window period does not yield a very reliable result, for precaution sake, it is suggested to go for frequent follow-up tests in a span of 2 or three weeks, until the antibodies are finally formed. 35 percent of the people die, because they go for an HIV test just once during their window period. When they get tested later, say, in the fourth stage of the disease, things blow out of proportion by that time.

The failure to detect HIV virus during this period has prompted the scientists to work out another formula, which will enable a person to detect HIV positive, even during the window period. This is called the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which can detect the presence of HIV by studying the genetic composition of all the components of the blood. The scientists, with the help of PCR, can figure out any genetic defect within the components of the blood.

PCR is often used for testing donated blood. However, it cannot be used for HIV tests, because a formula is yet to be worked out to specifically detect the existence of HIV virus. A window period lasts for 22 to 30 days on an average. However, for some individuals, it could even be more than three to six months. A lot depends on the body type of the individual. Antigen Testing and Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) can curtail the window period to 16 days and 12 days respectively. 99% of the people have detectable antibodies by three months. That ends the window period. Rarely does it take more than three months to detect them. A patient is also prone to have a wrong diagnosis, if he is with X-linked agammaglobulinemia. An ELISA Test must be avoided for such patients.

However, antiretroviral therapy like ELISA Test during the Window period can further postpone the formation of these antibodies upto twelve months, while PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) Test does not lead to any delay. This delay does not have a very positive impact on the patients. In most cases, it leads to the growth of Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Therefore, the HIV window period can be described as the period, when the patients are most helpless. The HIV tests constantly yields negative results, and one has to keep on testing themselves to get a final accurate outcome. This elongated process becomes very frustrating and distressing for most patients. They finally quit appearing for any further test, only to damage their own body for the long run.

  • What is HIV Window Period