What Should I Do If My Test Is Negative
If your test result is negative, youll probably breathe a big sigh of relief. But dont let down your guard. Its important to protect yourself in the future. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether PrEP is right for you. The PrEP daily pill can reduce your risk of getting HIV from sexual contact by 99%. For IV drug users, it lowers the risk by 74%. PrEP is very important if you are HIV negative and in a stable monogamous relationship with HIV positive partner.
Even if you take PrEP, its still smart to practice safer sex. Always use a condom to reduce your risk of getting HIV and other STDs.
Making Hiv Testing Routine
You might want to test more regularly than this, for example, if you are having sex with a new partner or feel you are more at risk. Groups who are more at risk are recommended to test more regularly. Testing every 3-6 months is often advised for men who have sex with men.
Testing regularly helps keep your mind at rest, and if you test positive, it means you can start treatment quickly, protecting your health.
How Do I Know If I Should Get Tested
Here are some instances that would help you figure if you need a screening test:
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What Support Is Available
If you receive an HIV diagnosis, you can find help. Your healthcare provider can recommend support groups and counselors.
If someone tells you they are HIV-positive, they are telling you because they trust you. The time right after diagnosis can be very tough. You can support them in many ways:
- Be a friend. While they may not be ready to talk about their diagnosis right away, show them you care by treating them as you did before.
- Listen. Your friend may just need someone to listen to their concerns and fears. Be there for them.
- Learn about the disease. The reference section of this article has additional information to learn about the condition.
- Encourage them to seek treatment. Your friend may not realize they have options available. They do, and they can get treatment. Help them find it and stick to it.
- Get help for yourself. While it will be a challenging time for your friend, you may need some support too. Talk to others a counselor, for example about any concerns or anxieties you may have.
How Long Do I Need To Wait Before I Test
Thereâs a window period between exposure to HIV and a positive test because it takes time for your body to either build a response to the infection or for the virus to replicate enough for a test to detect it. HIV window periods can vary.
For example, if you have unprotected sex on a Friday night, and get an HIV test Monday morning, the test wonât be able to detect HIV or an immune response to HIV yet. There hasnât been enough time for a positive result, even if the virus is in your body.
To get the earliest, most accurate result, first consider when you were exposed and whether youâre showing symptoms.
- If you know exactly when you may have come into contact with the virus, take a test 3 months after that date. Tests 3 months after exposure should be 99% accurate.
- If you are having symptoms of HIV, see your doctor right away. Your doctor may want to use a test that can look for the virus directly in your body.
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How Long After Having Unprotected Sex Should I Wait To Accurately Be Tested For Hiv
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What Is Prep And How Can I Get It
PrEP is similar to PEP but is taken before potential exposure to HIV and is highly effective at preventing a person from catching it. PrEP is recommended for people whose sex lives place them at higher risk of acquiring HIV and can be purchased online from reliable sources. For more information visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website.
Around 200 clinics throughout the UK are currently taking part in a trial of PrEP called the IMPACT study to see if it would be practicable to offer it on the NHS in the future. While places on the study are limited, it may be possible to enrol at your local clinic if you meet the eligibility criteria.
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How Soon Can I Take An Hiv Test
This question usually refers to how soon after exposure can someone test for HIV.
This used to involve waiting 3 to 4 weeks before taking an HIV test .
However, 2020 UK guidelines now recommend waiting 6 weeks.
This is because 4th generation HIV tests will detect 99% of infections at 6 weeks compared to 95% of infections 4 weeks after exposure.
A negative test after four weeks needs to be confirmed with a second test three months after the risk. This is to cover the small chance that you take longer than four weeks to generate an antibody response.
Extending this to 6 weeks means the confirmatory test is no longer needed.
In high risk exposures, especially if symptoms occur, viral load testing is sometimes used after one week. This includes after a sexual assault or after a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker.
In these cases a viral load test can exclude an infection when there are symptoms.
Viral load tests are not approved to diagnose HIV. A negative result still needs to be confirmed by an antibody test three months after the risk.
Figure 6: Recommended time from exposure to HIV test *
* This diagram needs to be updated to show the six-week window.
What Is An Std Incubation Period
An incubation period is the span of time from when you first come in contact with an STD to when antibodies form to fight the STD1). Tests look for the presence of these antibodies during testing2), and if you do not wait until the incubation period has ended, you may not allow your body sufficient time to develop enough antibodies for it to show up in testing, causing a false-negative result.
Even after you have waited for the incubation period to end, you may not see signs or symptoms of the STD. Many STDs do not display symptoms at all or are so subtle that you could think you have a cold or a rash. Your symptoms come and go, but this doesnt mean the STD has gone away. This is why its so important to get tested there is simply no other way to be 100% sure of an STD diagnosis.
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can Tests Detect I Have The Virus
The window of time between exposure to HIV and when a test will show you have the virus varies from person to person and by the type of test:
- Nucleic acid test : The NAT test can detect HIV infection the earliest. It can tell if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure.
- Antigen/antibody test: The antigen/antibody test can detect infection 18 to 45 days after exposure when performed by a lab using blood from a vein. If the sample is from a finger prick, the window is 18 to 90 days after exposure.
- Antibody test: Antibody tests can detect infection 23 to 90 days after exposure.
If your initial test is negative, get a second test after the window of time has passed. The second test can confirm your negative result in case you got tested before the infection was active in your body.
Remember, post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection, but you must start it within 72 hours of possible infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to start PEP.
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Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
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When Should I Start Pep And How Long Do I Need To Take It
PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV. The sooner you start it, the better every hour counts.
You need to take the PEP medicines every day for 28 days. You will have to see your health care provider at certain times during and after taking the PEP, so you can have an HIV screening test and other testing.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting Tested
Getting tested can help find an infection early or when you have no symptoms. This is important so that:
- You can take steps to avoid spreading the infection.
- You can tell your sex partner so they can be tested, get treatment if needed, and avoid spreading the infection.
- You can start treatment right away. Treatment can help your immune system stay healthy and delay or prevent AIDS. And it may help you live longer. AIDS is the last and most severe stage of HIV infection. Treatment also lowers the chance that you will give the infection to a sex partner who doesn’t have the infection.3
- A sex partner who does not have HIV could choose to take medicine to help prevent getting infected with HIV.
- If you are pregnant, you can get early treatment that can reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby.
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Some Practices Dont Reduce Your Risk Of Hiv
Some people use unreliable methods to reduce their risk of HIV. These include:
- Serosorting choosing your sexual partner based upon them having the same HIV status as you.
- Strategic positioning where an HIV-negative partner penetrates an HIV-positive partner.
- Withdrawal when the insertive partner pulls out before ejaculating .
None of these strategies are reliable, so you are at risk of HIV transmission.Having sex only with people who have the same HIV status can be very risky. For example, a person may think they are HIV-negative, but may have been exposed to HIV since their last test, or may never have been tested at all.
Using a combination of proven, reliable strategies like condoms, PrEP, and undetectable viral load is the best way to prevent HIV transmission.
How Is Hiv Treated
Australians can live well with HIV. Treatments have changed over time, dramatically improving the quality and length of life for someone who is HIV positive.
It is also important to have a strong support network. Evidence suggests that involving others can improve your mental health and wellbeing and help you maintain treatment.
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Letting Partners Know You Have Hiv
If you have just been diagnosed with HIV, it will likely be a difficult time. You might still be struggling to come to terms with diagnosis.
During this time, it is important to let any sexual or injecting partners know they may have been exposed to HIV as soon as you can, so they can be tested and offered PEP if appropriate.
You do not have to do this alone. Your doctor or the Department of Health and Human Services Partner Notification Officers can help you through this process and ensure your identity is not revealed.. Both groups can provide information, support, and guidance for people living with HIV.
Which Test Can Give Me Results The Soonest
The period of time also differs, depending on which kind of test you take. The different types of tests include:
- Antibody tests, which look for the antibodies — special proteins that help fight infection — that your body makes in reaction to an HIV infection. Most rapid tests and at-home tests are these kind. Antibody tests require the longest wait time after infection to get an accurate result. For most people — around 97% — this takes anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. For some, it can take as long as 6 months.
- Combination or fourth-generation tests, which look for both antibodies and antigens. Antigens are part of the virus itself. One antigen, p24, is detectable before your body starts making antibodies. These tests are becoming more common in the U.S. They can tell you if you have HIV a little sooner than an antibody test can.
- Nucleic acid tests , which can detect HIV in your body the soonest after infection. The test looks for the virus in your blood. You need a certain amount of the virus in your blood before the test will detect it. This is called your viral load. You can get a negative test if your viral load is still low. A NAT can tell you if you have HIV as early as 7 to 28 days after infection. It gives the quickest result, but itâs also the most expensive. Doctors donât typically use it unless youâre at a high risk of exposure to HIV.
Youâre more likely to have a NAT if you:
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Key Points To Remember
- Many health experts and provincial health organizations in Canada recommend HIV testing for everyone. Other experts and organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada , recommend having a screening test for HIV if you have a high risk of infection.1 HIV tests are also recommended for all pregnant women.
- You may not need to be screened for HIV if you aren’t sexually active and if you and your doctor have determined that you have a very low risk for getting HIV.
- HIV may not cause symptoms early on. And people who have early symptoms may mistake them for the flu or mononucleosis. So without a test, you may not know that you have an infection.
- If you have a test that shows that you have HIV, you can take steps to prevent spreading HIV to others.
- You may be afraid to be tested for HIV. But if there’s any chance you could be infected, it’s very important to find out. HIV can be treated, and early treatment can slow down the virus and help you stay healthy.
- Getting treatment may lower the chance that you will give the infection to a sex partner who doesn’t have the infection or to your baby, if you are pregnant.3
- It can take as little as 2 weeks or as long as 3 months from the time you become infected with HIV for the antibodies or antigens to be found in your blood. If you think you have been exposed to HIV but you test negative for it, you should be tested again.
- If your test shows that you have HIV, your sex partner will need to know and get tested.
How Soon Can I Get Tested For Stds After Unprotected Sex
Lets say youve recently had unprotected sex and now youre worried that you may have picked up a sexually transmitted disease . With STD rates rising higher than ever before, this is a totally valid and legitimate concern. So what do you do? Getting tested would be a very smart decision, but you may be surprised to learn that you can actually test too early.
If you feel like you could have contracted an STD, your instinct may be to get tested immediately, but this can be a huge mistake. Testing too early can cause inaccurate results, possibly leading you to believe youre STD-free when youre really not. This is because each STD has its own unique incubation period, which you must out wait in order to get accurate results. Like many things in life, timing is everything.
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