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How often should a low risk person be tested?

Jan 8, 1999

QUESTION #1: Hi! I have tested HIV neg and am not "High risk". How often should I get an HIV test?

QUESTION #2: My question is...if you practice safer sex ie: latex condoms 100 % of the time on a regular basis and experience no leaks or breaks ...and have a HIV positive partner...what are the recommendations for testing? I have heard the risk would be low risk. Also, does a partners viral load help determine that risk to be more defined..although I realize low VL does not mean "not infectious". Last question..if in fact a woman with a HIV + partner had sex using a condom and did in fact ever notice a "leak" or "breakage" ...what would be the propper thing to do? Tell a doctor..get treatment/tests? I think it would be good to know beforehand in case of an condom failure. Thanks for providing a place to ask such questions. I enjoy reading the posts. JC

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your questions.

In regard to low risk exposures:

If you have tested negative more than 6 months after your last possible exposure to the virus, and you do not engage in risky behaviors (unprotected intercourse, giving oral sex, sharing needles, etc.), then generally speaking, there is no need to get further tests. We generally do not recommend HIV testing for persons at low risk of infection, since it would be highly unlikely that a low risk person would be infected in the first place.

Some people who are in a relationship with a person known to be HIV positive (usually referred to as a discordant couple) will get tested every 6 months or so, even if they have only had low risk exposures (most often for peace-of-mind). Whether a person wants to get tested under these circumstances, and how often they get tested, is usually up to the individual.

In regard to high risk exposures:

If you have had a significant exposure (unprotected intercourse, giving oral sex, having a condom break, etc.) with a person known to have HIV (or known to be at high risk for HIV), then it is very important that you get tested for HIV.

To answer your questions about the risks of infection with an HIV positive individual (if a condom were to break), please read the following postings:

What determines the chances of infection? Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) For Sexual Exposures

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

Hiv-2 testing in the United States
HIV testing in newborn babies

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