The test used in this pilot detects HIV antibodies. These antibodies are produced by the body and are a sign that HIV has entered the blood stream. It usually takes 2-4 weeks after infection for HIV antibodies to appear in the blood; in some circumstances they may not be measurable for up to three months.
If in our discussions today, we determine that you have had a high-risk exposure to HIV, it is recommended that you be tested 3 weeks, six weeks and three months after that exposure. In the first 3-4 weeks after the exposure, a healthcare provider may also recommend that you go to the clinic to have a standard test which measures the virus not the antibodies, and which can be more accurate in early infection.
How often should I be tested for HIV?
Tested is always recommended after any high-risk HIV exposure. If you are having high risk exposures frequently, a healthcare provider can refer you to resources to help you reduce your risk.
If you belong to a group particularly at risk for HIV, annual testing is recommended if you are having any possible exposures, such as sex with partners whose HIV status you don’t know, even if you are using prevention, such as condoms.