You may already know that HIV testing detects HIV antibodies (your body’s response to HIV), rather than the virus itself. And while we used to have to wait up to 3 months for antibodies to be at detectable levels to likely show up on an HIV test, testing in Ontario has improved and the guidelines have changed.
Antibodies: your body’s immune response to HIV, what shows up on an HIV test (rather than the virus itself).
Window Period: the gap between the time a person is infected with HIV and the time when the antibodies are formed.
Most people will develop antibodies detectable on current tests within 3 weeks of exposure to HIV. Your tester may ask you to return after 3 months to get tested again, just to make sure.
Why test early if you’ll have to go back?
- When you’re worried about potential HIV infection, 3 months can be a long time to wait! Getting tested earlier can mean knowing sooner.
- During the first few months following HIV infection, the virus is replicating quickly in the body, making it easier to pass on. Many people have become HIV positive as a result of sex with another person who was newly infected (and likely did not know they had HIV).
- Early detection can lead to early treatment, meaning better health outcomes for you, and a lowered risk of HIV transmission to your partners. Testing early is very important for reducing HIV infection rates
IF you’re having sex that is considered Low Risk (fingering, handjobs, rimming,trading blow jobs, fucking with a condom),
consider making annual HIV testing part ofyour routine.
IF you fucked without a condom,
as a top or a bottom, whether it was anal, vaginal orfront hole (with a trans guy) sex, you can get tested as early as 3 weeks afterwards.
IF you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or a rash,
and you fucked without a condom within the last month or so, get tested right away, even if it’s been less than 3weeks. Those may be the symptoms of the body’sreaction to HIV infection.
IF you regularly fuck without condoms,
it might be a good idea to get tested morefrequently. Talk with your HIV tester about how often you should get tested.