Posts Tagged ‘Window period’

Ask Anything: Unprotected oral sex – HIV contraction?

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I was getting oral sex from a sex worker. I am really worry about HIV contraction. Please let me know regarding this issue.

I’ll do my best to answer your question, but I’m missing some details that would let me give you a truly accurate response on the risk level for your situation.

Assuming you’re stressed because you didn’t use a barrier (condom or dental dam) when getting oral sex, I can tell you that the HIV transmission rate during unprotected oral sex is not high. There is a risk of contraction for you, but it’s low. Regarding unprotected oral sex, I would be more concerned with the Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Herpes contraction, because the transmission of these STIs can be from a skin-to-skin contact.

The best way to lower your anxiety would be to get tested for these STIs.  Something to have in mind before getting tested is that STIs have what’s called a window period. A window period is the time where an STI is alive in your body, is contagious, but is not yet detectable by a test. For example, Chlamydia’s window period is 3 to 10 days, but HIV’s window period is 3 to 6 months.

This means that if you’ve had sex and are worried about having contracted HIV, you have to wait at less 3 months after the sexual incounter that is worrying you to get an accurate test result. In most cases, the test will be accurate after 3 months, but to be sure, it’s important to get tested after 6 months as well.

You can always get tested for HIV (and other STIs) at the Head & Hands medical clinic on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. In the meantime, I would recommend that you use condoms and/or dental dams to make sure that you and your partners are protected.

Ask Anything: When to get tested?

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Do you have to get tested after every time you have sex? If not, how often?

I wouldn’t recommend getting tested after every time you have sex. First off, for some people or at certain times in a person’s life, this would mean getting tested many times a week…which could be time consuming! Secondly, and most importantly, there is a technical aspect related to getting accurate test results.

A lot of STIs have what’s called a “window period”. This relates to the amount of time between the transmission of the STI (when someone is infected) and when a medical test would be able to detect the STI. To state it simply, the window period is the time where an STI is alive in your body, is totally contagious, but is still undetectable by a test.  For example, Chlamydia’s window period is 3 to 10 days, but HIV’s window period is 3 to 6 months. This means that if you’ve had sex and are worried about having contracted HIV, you have to wait 3 to 6 months to get accurate test results (in most cases, the test will be accurate after 3 months but to be sure, it’s important to get tested after 6 months as well).

So in general, when you are sexually active, you should get tested for STIs every 6 months even if you use protection – that way, you cover all the window periods of the different tests. People sometimes choose to get tested every year, or even less often, if they have one partner and they’ve agreed on a monogamous relationship.

You can also download are bilingual STIgma Zine to get more information on different STIs, safer sex and communication with partners about these things!

As one of the stages of HIV, what is the Asymptomatic Period?

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As one of the stages of HIV, the Asymptomatic Period refers to the time between becoming infected with HIV and being able to tell that you’re HIV positive with a test. TRUE or FALSE?

FALSE

The Asymptomatic Period is when people who are HIV positive may look and feel perfectly healthy for a long time (up to 15 years or more), especially if they already have a healthy lifestyle. Even though the virus is breaking down their immune system, they don’t feel it. But remember, during this period, they can still transmit the virus!

The time between becoming infected with HIV and being able to tell that you’re HIV positive with a test is called the Window Period. It is between three weeks and six months but if you’ve had unprotected sex or done something else that’s risky, you have to wait three months to get tested to be sure the test is accurate. This means you can’t do any more high-risk stuff during that time or the test is no good! To know for sure whether you’re HIV+ or not, be especially careful to stay away from at-risk activities until your test results are in.

Also, the three months following infection are those when the virus is at its most contagious. And, while one’s use of antiretroviral drugs can help control the HIV virus in the bloodstream, levels of contagion can continue to spike throughout one’s life. That being said, HIV can be transmitted at ALL times. So, be aware and be safe!