WINDOW PERIOD – WHEN SHOULD I GET TESTED?
- Antigens can be detected 14-15 days after infection (Acute Infection). Antigens and antibodies can both be detected 21-28 days after infection (Early Infection). Only antibodies will be detected after 28 days (established infection). Most HIV tests are antibody tests that measure the antibodies your body makes to fight against HIV. It can take some time for the immune system to produce enough antibodies for the antibody test to detect the virus. This time period can vary from person to person. This time period is commonly referred to as the “window period.” Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 2 to 8 weeks (the average is 25 days).
- Even so, there is a chance that some individuals will take longer to develop detectable antibodies. Therefore, if the initial negative HIV test was conducted within the first 3 months after possible exposure, repeat testing should be considered >3 months after the exposure occurred to account for the possibility of a false-negative result. Ninety-seven percent of persons will develop antibodies in the first 3 months following the time of their infection. In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months to develop antibodies to HIV. Another type of test is an RNA test, which detects the HIV virus directly. The time between HIV infection and RNA detection is 9–11 days. These tests, which are more costly and used less often than antibody tests, are used in some parts of the United States. For information on HIV testing, you can talk to your health care provider or you can find the location of the HIV testing site nearest to you here on our site or by calling 813-515-4408 or 863-875-9351.