How often should you take an HIV test? That depends!
The CDC recommends that opt-out HIV screening be a part of routine clinical care for all patients aged 13-64. In other words, you should have an HIV test during a medical check-up—just like you have a blood test or a urine test to be sure you are healthy.
In spite of that recommendation, however, most people are tested on the basis of their risk factors for getting HIV. You should get tested for HIV every at least every year if you:
- Share needles/syringes or other equipment (“works”) for injecting drugs
- Have a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Have had unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with multiple or anonymous partners. Or if you have had had unprotected sex with a partner who did not know their own HIV status.
Some healthcare providers may recommend testing every 3-6 months if you have certain risk factors, including injection drug use and/or unprotected sex with others who engage in high-risk behaviors.
You should consult your healthcare provider to see how often you should be tested.
If you or your partner plan to become pregnant, getting an HIV test is very important. All women who are pregnant should be tested during the first trimester of pregnancy. The CDC also recommends another HIV test in the third trimester of pregnancy for women who live in areas where there are high rates of HIV infection among pregnant women or among women aged 15-44.
If you have already been diagnosed with HIV and are pregnant, there are medications and treatment which can lower the chance of passing HIV to your baby. Please contact your doctor or local health department for proper care and information.
Frequently Asked Questions
I had sex with someone I think could be at risk for HIV, and the condom broke? What should I do?
If it’s been less than 72 hours since the condom broke, you may be able to take medication that could keep you from getting infected with HIV, even if your partner is HIV-positive. Call your doctor or your local health department immediately and ask about post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. If it’s been longer than 72 hours, PEP will not protect you from HIV, and you will need to explore HIV testing options. (Go to hivtest.cdc.gov for help in locating a testing site.) In most cases, you will have to wait at least 2 weeks after a possible exposure before an HIV test can provide accurate results.
Last revised: 11/10/2010