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Ask Dr. K

I've been taking an HIV antibody test every six months for the last 15-20 years. In the beginning, they said it took the body up to six months to develop antibodies, so a negative result only meant you had not been exposed six months or more in the past.

Are today's antibody tests the same? Are there tests that can tell you as of this moment if you have contracted the HIV virus?

Yes, the good news is that the tests for HIV have gotten better. As you said, standard HIV testing will show if you have antibodies to HIV in your body. More than 95% of the time, this will cover sex up to three months before testing. But itís always good to plan to re-test three months later if you have had sex you are worried about. We suggest that sexually active people test every six months for HIV and every three months for other STDS.

Another type of test is now available that finds the virus in your blood, rather than your bodyís immune response (antibodies). This test is called an HIV RNA test. We have it at SF City Clinic or you can ask for it from your doctor. You can learn more about the different kinds of HIV tests here.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Wednesday, May 05, 2010.
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