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When Is HIV Detectable in Blood?

Q: I had an HIV blood test done with my doctor a few weeks ago, and everything came back negative. I’ve been reading about window periods online and now I’m concerned that I tested too early. When is HIV detectable in the blood?

A: Your doctor could have run a couple different types of tests, but most likely they ran a standard HIV antibody test. The antibody test is reliable for anything more than 6 weeks ago, and conclusive for anything more than 12 weeks ago. If you had something in that 6-12 week window, you might consider retesting when it’s been 12 weeks from the incident you’re concerned about. If the incident was in the past six weeks you might consider early detection testing.

The HIV DNA PCR is an early detection test that is considered conclusive for HIV 28 days after exposure. In reality it is reliable much earlier than that. It can cost more than traditional testing, but sometimes the cost is worth the early comfort. If you have questions or are interested in testing, please do not hesitate to let us know. We can help you decide what to test for and when.