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HIV testing and the window period

Ever wondered why you have to get tested again soon if you get tested once for HIV? That is because of the window period.

What is the window period?

The window period is the time from when a person is infected with HIV to when an HIV test is actually able to find the HIV antibodies in their saliva or blood. Antibodies are something your body makes to help you fight off a virus. 

How long is the window period?

The window period can sometimes take 4-6 weeks or even longer, depending on the type of HIV test that you take. If you take an HIV test during this time, the test may come back negative even though HIV is already in your body. 

It is important for you to tell the healthcare provider two things when you go get tested:

  1. When you may have been exposed to HIV, as this will help them decide when you should get tested again.
  2. How you may have been exposed to HIV (for example, by having sex without a condom or sharing a needle).

If a healthcare provider tells you to come back for an HIV test, it’s important that you do. If you test positive you will be able to get treatment as soon as possible and if you are negative you will have access to PrEP.

Wondering what to do if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV? Check out this quiz for guidance.

There are many places you can go to to get tested for HIV. Find out where to go here.

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