for Veterans and the Public
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How soon after risky sex can you be 100% sure you are clear of HIV?
There is no single correct answer to this question. One recommended strategy is to get tested 2-4 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after a risky exposure. Using a sensitive antigen/antibody HIV test, of those who are infected, most will test positive at 1 month; almost all will test positive at 3 months; and the rest will test positive at 6 months. If you have any symptoms that may be caused be acute HIV infection, you should be retested immediately, with an HIV viral load test included. Newer and more sensitive HIV tests make it more and more likely that HIV will be detected at earlier time points.
If you have been taking PrEP, tell your clinician that when you are getting tested because PrEP may affect the ability of the HIV tests to detect early HIV infection.
Remember, if you have had "risky sex," you may want to start PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent HIV infection. You should start this as soon as possible after the possible exposure to HIV, and ideally within 72 hours of the exposure--call your VA clinician or go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic.
For more information, please see the Getting Tested section of the Web site.