Well, it depends on you!
HIV testing is recommended once a year, if you are sexually active or shoot drugs or do anything that exposes you to blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. The recommended frequency of testing increases as more risk factors are present.
In addition to a risk-appropriate frequency, keep these things in mind, as well:
- You testing for HIV does not reduce your risk of contracting HIV. Your behavior reduces your risk of contracting HIV.
- It can take up to 12 weeks after HIV infection for you to test positive on an HIV antibody test.
- You should still test at a routine appropriate for you if you are in a relationship. If you go to the doctor annually for a physical (or well-woman exam), this would be a great time to request confirming (or adding) HIV screening to your lab work. You can always call your insurance provider to find out if HIV screening is covered at annual visits.
- The most loving thing to hear in your new monogamous relationship is: “Let’s get tested.” Think about it: you are testing for your partner; and your partner is testing for you. You may need to prepare yourself before having this conversation as it may be something new to both of you. Remember, anyone who has sex without a condom is at some risk for contracting or transmitting HIV. HIV does not discriminate! It does not care what your age, race, sex, gender expression, sexual orientation, education level, religion, relationship status, testing routine, or income is. If you have sex without a condom, that’s enough justification for testing. Let your partner know this, because it is so important that your partner understands that simply asking her or him to test is not an accusation of anything. It’s a respectful, caring, compassionate, and loving start to your relationship. Ignorance is not always bliss. If you do find out that you or your partner are HIV+, don’t fret. There are so many wonderful medical advancements available to you and your partner to help keep your health and HIV statuses as they are.