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What is the HIV Test Window Period?

Did you know that right after you are infected with HIV you may still test negative for the virus if you were to be tested at that time? There exists what is known as an HIV test window, and it refers to the period of time from when you are first infected to when the virus will actually show up on HIV tests.

During this time, you are actually infected and you can still easily spread the virus on to other people. This is why it is so important to be tested regularly for HIV, particularly if you engage in sex with multiple partners and sometimes have unprotected sex. Even protected sex carries the risk of passing on an infection.

You also have to be wary of anyone you are having sex with. Even if they say they are not infected with HIV, they still could be. It is possible that they are not being entirely truthful with you or that they are infected but are unaware. In either scenario, you are at extreme risk of contracting the virus yourself.

The test window is typically three weeks long. This measures the period from when you are first infected to when a test would actually show if you are infected. However, at this point, the test will only be able to detect up to 95% of all viruses in your body. There is still a chance that you are carrying a strain of HIV that could not be detected just yet.

If you stretch that period to three months, then the test is more accurate, being able to detect up to 99.9% of all infections.

What that means is even if the first test came up negative, you should still go back for testing in a few months just to be sure. If there is any chance that you are infected, you should abstain from sex until you have been properly tested and the test window has elapsed.

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