Late Seroconversion

Originally Posted: 
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I have concern regarding late seroconversion. I received oral sex from a female of unknown status about 15 months ago. I have tested negative via rapid hiv finger prick test from the county health department 4 times (at 3, 5, 9, and 13 months). Within the last 4 months, I've had persistant canker sores, tingling tongue, and constant colds. What are the chances of me seroconverting a year after possible exposure? Also, would the test detect antibodies after the window period regardless of symptoms? I've seen the standard window period is 3 months, but have seen some conflicting statements regarding the "window period". Your insight would be greatly appreciated.



Thank you for choosing the AIDS Vancouver Online Helpline as your source of HIV/AIDS related questions and information.

Receiving oral sex is considered a negligible risk for the transmission of HIV. This means there has never been a reported case of HIV being transmitted this way.


The Rapid test you received is considered conclusive 3 months post exposure, provided there have been no subsequent exposures. Since you tested 3, 5, 9 and 13 months post exposure and all your results were negative, I am confident in saying that you can trust the results and your HIV negative status, especially since your exposure was not high risk.

The window period listed by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) is 3 months, and this is the most recent, updated information that we use. Unfortunately, the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, has not yet updated their window period information and it is still listed at 6 months, this may be the source of the conflicting information you have heard.

Late seroconversion is typically only seen in individuals undergoing chemotherapy, treatment for Hepatitis C, those taking PEP medication for HIV and individuals with a pre-existing immunodeficiency disorder. Even in these situations, late seroconversion is very rare.

The symptoms of HIV are highly variable and do not show up in everyone. For this reason we do not use symptoms as an indication of the presence of HIV. The only way to be sure of your HIV status is to get tested, which it is great to see you have done. HIV testing will detect antibodies even if no symptoms are present.

I would encourage you to check in with your doctor or health care provider regarding your symptoms, as they may be an indication of another medical concern, but they are not an indication of HIV. I would also encourage you to let go of your anxiety regarding your encounter and be confident that you are HIV negative.


At AIDS Vancouver we recommend all sexually active individuals receive periodic testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as part of a healthy lifestyle.


Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you have any further questions.


In Health,


AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer


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



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