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How reliable are the HIV tests?

Q: I have had 4 encounters of handjobs in 2 months ago in the US. There was no contact of sexual fluids or blood; but my penis was unprotected and touched by the females hands. I am planning to go for HIV testing next month (after 3 months). Should I trust the 3 months testing result as the Final Result or should I again test at 6 months? Why I am asking this question is that theres a likelihood that in a couple of months I may get married; Do I need to postpone this decision till I take the second test after 6 months?

A:Your question is really in two parts. One refers to the window period when a person, though infected, may test negative because his body has not yet produced enough antibodies to react with the test and give a positive result. The other part of your question refers to your risk of being infected. The usual HIV tests detect HIV antibodies. When enough antibodies are present, the test gives a positive result. Conversely when infection is present but the level of antibodies is below a certain threshold, the test falsely gives a negative result. This is known as the window period. Generally the window period is below 3 months after infection. In some rare cases there may be a longer window period and hence the advice to test at 3 months and again at 6 months after exposure. In your case, judging by your history, there is little or no chance of infection even if the partner was HIV positive. Therefore if your test is negative next month, go ahead and get married. If you want to be doubly cautious, test again after 6 months but I do not think it is required. In the future please dont take chances. If the need arises masturbate yourself -- this is normal and safe!

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