Engagement in dangerous sexual behavior can have damaging and fatal outcomes; not only to you, but to others you’ve had sexual relationships with, including those closest to you. If you’ve engaged in dangerous sexual behavior, (such as sex without a condom, sex with prostitutes, anonymous sex), it is strongly encouraged that you are screened to sexual transmitted diseases, and tell those you are having sexual relationships with to be screened. There is no way around this. Ignoring this could cause the death of yourself and others around you, so this takes precedence over trying to save relationships or working a program.
If you haven’t been caught (yet), it may be difficult to confess the dangerous behaviors that you’ve committed at this time. There are two tests for HIV, the more common and lest costly antibody tests and RNA testing, which costs more, takes longer to get results, but can identify HIV earlier. .
Antibody tests look for antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself. It takes about one month, sometimes up to three months, after infection for your body to produce enough antibodies to show up on a test. These are the most common type of test. All rapid tests are antibody tests. Here’s the window period for these tests:
• Most people develop detectable antibodies within 2-8 weeks
• 25 days is the average time it takes to develop detectable antibodies
• 97% of people develop detectable antibodies within 3 months
• In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months to develop antibodies
In some cases, antibody test results can be made available 10-20 minutes after testing.
Unlike antibody tests, RNA tests can detect the presence of the virus itself. They look for HIV’s genetic material — its RNA — which can be detected much sooner than antibodies. The window period for RNA test detection is 9–11 days.
RNA tests are done from blood samples and it usually takes two weeks for the lab to process the test. However, if you are experiencing some of the classic symptoms of seroconversion (or becoming HIV positive), doctors are often able to arrange to get the results much faster.
What this means is that although it may appear you don’t have symptoms, or test negatively for HIV, you may still be infected. It’s important to not engage in unprotected sex with others until you can be fully sure that that you have not been infected.
It is important to have a support person (counselor, close friend, or clergy) available at the time of disclosure. If you need to disclose, consider doing this with some support.