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HEALTH : Span Extended on AIDS Dormancy

<i> From Times wire services</i>

The AIDS virus apparently can hide in the body longer than was previously believed, evading the most common tests for the deadly invader for almost three years in some cases, UCLA researchers reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new findings contradict conventional wisdom that it takes only about six months before someone infected with the virus begins producing antibodies that are detected in routine screening tests.

The researchers said they are uncertain whether their findings apply to all groups, or whether people who silently harbor the virus are infectious during that period.

But the scientists said their work indicates the so-called “window” period between when a person is infected and when he or she begins producing telltale antibodies can be much longer than previously believed.

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