How often should you take an HIV test? That depends!
The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. About 1 in 8 people in the United States who have HIV don’t know they have it.
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.
People with certain risk factors should get tested more often. If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested and answer yes to any of the following questions, you should get an HIV test because these things increase your chances of getting HIV:
- Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
- Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner?
- Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
- Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (for example, water or cotton) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted disease?
- Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?
You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.
Also, if you have been sexually assaulted, you should get an HIV test as soon as possible after the assault and should consider post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), taking HIV medicines after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected.
Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results.
To learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs, visit CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).
- AIDSInfo – HIV Testing
- AIDSInfo – HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral Guidelines
- CDC – Act Against AIDS HIV Testing Campaigns
- CDC – HIV Testing
- CDC – HIV Testing Basics
- CDC – HIV Testing in the U.S. (Fact Sheet)
- FDA – Testing for HIV
- OWH – Get Tested for HIV
- VA – Getting Tested: Info for Veterans and the Public
Last revised: 01/18/2017