Understanding a Negative Result

What does a negative test result mean?

If you get an HIV test, and the result is negative, it doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have HIV. That's because of the window period — the time between HIV exposure and when a test can detect HIV in your body.

If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period for the test you took. If you test again after the window period and it comes back negative, no possible HIV exposure during that time, and your result is negative, you do not have HIV.

You should continue the HIV tests for one year If you’re sexually active or use needles to inject drugs. If you have certain risk factors for getting or transmitting HIV like being gay or bisexual, men who have sex with men (MSM), having sex with more than one partner per week, having sex with someone who has had anal sex with another person (and/or having shared needles), or having sex with someone who injected drugs within 30 days. You should continue to take actions to prevent HIV, like taking medicines to prevent HIV.

If I have a negative result, does that mean my partner is HIV-negative also?

Your HIV test result just shows if you have HIV or not. It doesn't mean that you will definitely get HIV if you have sex or share needles with someone. And the chance of getting HIV depends on what kind of exposure or behavior it is. So it's important to talk to your partner about their HIV status and to get tested together.