When can HIV be Detected?

Q: How soon after contracting HIV can it be detected?

A: HIV can be detected through blood with various tests. The traditional HIV antibody test will provide reliable results 6 weeks after a potential exposure, and is considered conclusive 12 weeks after the exposure. 6-12 weeks can be a long time to wait, especially if you have had a known exposure to HIV. Thankfully there is early detection testing available.

PCR technology has made it possible to detect HIV within days to weeks after exposure. The HIV DNA PCR is considered conclusive at 28 days post exposure, but can provide reliable results much earlier. The test is ideal for detecting exposure via needle stick, or any other high-risk exposure to the virus.  If you are concerned about a high risk exposure, or simply do not want to wait 6-12 weeks for a reliable result, you may consider the HIV DNA PCR. The cost is a little higher, but may be well worth knowing your result earlier.