how long can hiv stay dormant in the body?

Question

my exboyfriend just informed me that he is hiv+ we were together for 1 1/2 yrs and never used protection of any kind. I got a hiv test done and it came back negative. I heard it was possible that i have it, but it dormant in my body. Is this true? and If so, how often should i get tested?

Answer

The first thing you need to do is start using protection when you have sex. This protects you and others from further spread of HIV infection. You can repeat the test as much as you like, but the test does not protect you from infection.

When someone becomes infected with HIV, the antibody test (ELISA plus Western blot) turns positive within several weeks for most people. When it is said that the virus is dormant, this means that it does not cause illness for a lengthy period of time. However, it is not dormant in many other ways. The virus reproduces itself in huge numbers (hundreds of million of copies). Also, the immune system responds to the infection in various ways, including by producing antibodies, which are detected by the ELISA and Western blot tests.