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Advisable to abstain from sex 3 months after risk? "window period"

Jan 23, 2012

sir, is it presumed (for the tests beyond window period) that the person getting tested has abstained from sex during the window period? if he has sex with safe partner in this period has he to wait clear 3 months again?

Response from Mr. Glenn

Thanks for the question,

You're hitting on a nuance of testing advice. We usually say things like "all sexually active people should get tested on a regular basis" or "get tested for HIV 3 months after sex to get your status."

These are both very accurate statements! But the nuance comes as we consider what is risky and what is not.

Sexually active people who are HIV/STD negative and monogamous who only have sex with one person who is also HIV/STD and monogamous with them, will not get exposed to HIV/STDs and therefore don't need to be HIV/STD tested.

That's kind of a complex mouthful to share in prevention messages.

Likewise, a person who wants to test to find out their status needs to get tested 3 months after their last risky exposure. It stands to reason that if you have an exposure with risk but then safe sex after that, you would base your testing schedule off of the risky time.

Something to consider is risk for other STDs though. While safe sex for HIV can be pretty straightforward ("use a condom to prevent exposure") other STDs that can be transmitted through intense skin-to-skin contact like Herpes or HPV aren't always going to be prevented by condom.

So if you're getting your full panel of testing (which you should!), getting tested off of your last sex would be a good idea.

Hope this helps!


Risk of HIV and Hep B "Protected sex but bloody condom"
HIV risk from (possible) blood left on already cooked food "Bloody Brussels"

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