« Go Back

Acquiring HIV

Question: 

Towards the end of May, I had unprotected anal sex where I was the inserter. At 5 weeks, I took the HIV-1 RNA PCR test and it came up as negative. My doctor ordered the HIV-1 RNA PCR test again at 10 weeks and it came up negative once more. He said these results were conclusive. I do have a question, today I masturbated and tasted my semen. I am wondering, could I be testing negative all these times and then now test positive? It might sound crazy but I suffer from anxiety and I think of the worst possible things. Thank you!

Answer: 

Hi there,
Thank you for choosing AIDS Vancouver for your source of HIV/AIDS related information. It's great to see that you are taking initiative when it comes to your health and well being! 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), all HIV testing is conclusive 12 weeks (or 84 days) post-exposure, provided there have been no other exposures during that window period. Up to 95% of HIV cases are detectable within 4-6 weeks after the exposure. With this in mind, I would encourage you to follow up your negative result with another test at the 12 week mark, while also taking comfort in the fact that it is extremely unlikely that your test result will change.
Please note that the only way to know one's HIV status is through testing. Furthermore, HIV is transmitted from one person (who is HIV positive) to another. Masturbation is not a mode of transmission. 
It is perfectly normal to experience anxiety around HIV transmission. Nevertheless, HIV is transmitted through unprotected anal/vaginal sex and sharing needles. This indicates that you are in control of your own health and safety. Practicing safe sex, keeping the lines of dialogue open with your sexual partners, steering clear of sharing needles with others, and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly are great methods to keep your risk of HIV transmission extremely low. There is no need to be anxious about HIV acquirement if you follow such guidelines. 
At AIDS Vancouver, we encourage all sexually active individuals to get tested for all STIs, including HIV, as part of their health routine. This can be in the form of getting tested every 3 months, bi-annually, annually or whatever suits your lifestyle. 
I hope I have eased some of your anxiety, and if you have any other concerns please do not hesitate to contact us!
All the best,
Greg
AIDS Vancouver Helpline VolunteerE-mail: helpline@aidsvancouver.orgPhone (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm): (604) 696-4666Web: www.aidsvancouver.org/helpline