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.
- 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 of your routine.
IF you fucked without a condom, as a top or a bottom, whether it was anal, vaginal or front hole (with a trans guy) sex, you can get tested as early as 3 weeks afterwards.
IF you fucked without a condom within the last month or so, and are experiencing flu-like symptoms or a rash, get tested right away, even if it’s been less than 3 weeks. Those may be the symptoms of the body’s reaction to HIV infection. Not everyone, will experience symptoms after being newly infected with HIV.
IF you regularly fuck without condoms, it might be a good idea to get tested more frequently. Talk with your HIV tester about how often you should get tested.
For info about times, dates and locations of HIV testing clinics,
check out www.come-on-in.ca/calendar.html, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call the AIDS & Sexual Health Infoline at (416) 392-2437 or toll free at 1-800-668-2437