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Am J Med. 1997 May 19;102(5B):117-24; discussion 125-6.

Time course of viremia and antibody seroconversion following human immunodeficiency virus exposure.

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Irwin Memorial Blood Centers and the University of California, San Francisco 94118, USA.


Rational application of diagnostic assays in the management of healthcare workers (HCWs) following occupational exposure is needed to rule out pre-existing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, detect HIV infection or seroconversion as early as possible in the small proportion individuals who become infected, and to rule out infection in the high proportion of individuals who remain uninfected following occupational exposure to HIV. An understanding of the time course of viremia and seroconversion following HIV exposure is essential in developing recommendations for management of occupational exposure among HCWs. Several data sources that address the timing and dynamics of HIV viremia and seroconversion following primary infection are reviewed. The implications of each data source for management of occupational exposure among HCWs is assessed. Although the majority of infected HCWs seroconvert within 2 months of exposure, the possibility of delayed seroconversion is well established, with approximately 5% of infected HCWs estimated to seroconvert >6 months after exposure. In contrast, the period of viremia (detectable by p24 antigen or RNA assays) preceding antibody seroconversion is consistently brief (1-3 weeks). Animal inoculation studies indicate that a variable period of localized viral replication in lymphoid tissue draining inoculation sites exists prior to systemic viremia and subsequent seroconversion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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