Why get tested?

Because when you know your status, you have the power of knowing what your next step is.

It’s recommended that everyone who’s sexually active, especially those in a non-monogamous relationship — regardless of sex, gender, race, or orientation — gets regularly tested at least once a year. If you’re a sexually active gay or bisexual male, it's recommended you get tested every three to six months.

It may surprise you that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone be tested once. There are plenty of options to get it done. Meet with your primary care healthcare provider, visit a clinic, or get an at-home test. There are lots of free options, especially in Dallas County, so don’t let finances keep you from getting tested.

There are three types of tests available:

NUCLEIC ACID TESTS (NAT)

A NAT can usually tell you if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure.

ANTIGEN/ANTIBODY TESTS

An antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure.

ANTIBODY TESTS

Antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick can detect HIV (up to 90 days after exposure).

How long does it take to get results?

Every test is different. Laboratory tests (NAT and antigen/antibody) require blood to be drawn and sent to a laboratory, which means the results may take several days to become available.

A rapid antibody screening test is usually done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid; results are ready in 30 minutes or less.

A rapid antigen/antibody test is done with a finger prick the results are available in 30 minutes or less.

The oral fluid antibody self-test provides results within 20 minutes.

How soon after exposure to HIV can a test detect if I have the virus?

No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. There is a “window period” of time between when a person may have been exposed and when a test can detect it. A NAT can usually tell you if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure. An antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antibody tests are used to detect HIV infection 23 to 90 days after exposure. Antibody tests can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. Generally, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET TESTED IF I

Have More than
1 sex partner?
Get tested
1X per year
Shared
needles?
Get tested
after every use
Have an
STI?
Get tested
AM gay or
bisexual?
Get tested
every 3 to 6 months

Finding out your status gives you power. When you know, you can make a choice. But there are resources to help you, regardless of your results. We’re here to help you keep living your best life.