I know I should test for HIV but how often?

Unlike other health check-ups such as skin and dental, knowing how often to get an HIV test can vary depending on how sexually active you are, and this can cause some confusion. Here are some things to consider:

TESTING AND SAFE SEX

Even if you have been practising safe sex it is still recommended that you test at least twice a year, as while condoms remain one of the best prevention methods for HIV, you may not know when they have broken.

TEST FOR HIV FREQUENTLY IF YOU PLAY ADVENTUROUSLY

If you participate in group sex, use recreational drugs or have more than 10 sexual partners in 6 months, it’s worth testing around four times a year.

This is to be certain that you haven’t contracted HIV or other STIs. If you’re on PrEP, it is important to remember that you’re only protected from HIV transmission and may still result in the transmission of other STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HPV. Along with your HIV test, it’s recommended that you receive a full STI screen.

YOU SHOULD GET A HIV TEST IF YOU’VE HAD UNSAFE SEX

If you’ve engaged in unprotected sex or if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, then you should get tested immediately and consider commencing PEP.

This is important both for your own health, and for your sexual partners.

If you’re going to start PEP, you should do so as soon as possible after the risk event. Ideally, you should commence treatment within a few hours. If you wait longer than three days it greatly decreases the effectiveness of the treatment.

IF YOU’VE SCREENED POSITIVE FOR AN STI

If you’ve just had an STI screen that didn’t test for HIV and you tested positive for an STI, it’s worth considering getting a HIV test too – and as soon as possible. If it comes back as positive, then you’re able to seek treatment and take other necessary steps to leading a healthy life.

If you are still unclear on how often to test our Testing Frequency Calculator can help get the answer you need.

HOW TO START AN EFFECTIVE HIV TESTING ROUTINE

We’ve created some easy-to-use tools to help you determine when it’s best for you to test for HIV and stay on top of it.

If you are still unclear on how often to test our Testing Frequency Calculator can help get the answer you need. After you have your ideal testing frequency, you can use tool to find your nearest testing service, and after your HIV test, our Remind Me tool can notify you when you’re due for your next HIV test.