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Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Testing (297)

Hello,According to several official resources a new HIV strain has been recently discovered. It’s HIV group M subtype L. Does the 4th generation tests in British Columbia catch this strain?https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/06/health/hiv-new-strain-discovered/index.html https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health/New-HIV-Strain-564641321.html

Hi, and thanks for your question

The 4th Generation HIV test that we use for HIV testing in British Columbia is an antibody test. This means it tests for the antibody that is present in an individual’s blood when they have been exposed to the virus. These antibodies are not specific to a particular strain of HIV. Antibodies can be detected reliably 3 months or more after exposure to HIV, regardless of the strain of the virus.

If a person’s antibody test is reactive (“positive”) then they are diagnosed with an HIV infection. Once diagnosed, there is further testing done to determine which strain or sub-type of the virus the person has.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I was injected with a dirty needle ( unbeknownst to me at the time) 8 weeks ago.I have developed some lesions on my tongue as well as mild thrush.Yet all my public health lab blood draw tests (13,22,28,35,40,44,56)days have come back non reactive. Is 90 days test conclusive? Why hasn’t hiv antibody been detected in your opinion? I was very healthy before this exposure. Thanks

Hi, and thanks for your question

Yes, the window period (the time between when a person comes in contact with a sexually transmitted infection and when the STI will show up on a test) for HIV using the 4th Generation HIV Antibody test is 3 months (90 days). This means that if you have a negative, or non-reactive, test more than 90 days after the exposure you do not have HIV.

The reason that HIV antibodies have not been detected in your case is presumably because you do not have HIV.

The symptoms you are describing are not specific to HIV and could be attributed to any number of different causes.  If you are concerned about the symptom, you could revisit your family doctor to discuss the symptoms themselves, knowing that your HIV test is negative.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Are there any medical conditions that could affect testing results. I believe I have a gum infection from a root canal issue. Would such an issue affect a sti test result? Thank you

Hi, and thanks for your question

No, this kind of issue would not affect any STI results. Even bacteria from a gum infection will not affect the results of a throat swab for STIs. The tests we use and the laboratory machines that we run them on  are very sensitive and very specific to the test they are designed for, so you should have no problems with the accuracy of an STI test in this instance

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

HI, I HAD PROTECTED SEX WITH TRANSGENDER ONLY ONE TIME ON 1 MAY , AFTER 2 MONTH IN MY BODY LOT’S OF CHANGES.I READ IN INTERNET I HAVE SYMPTOMS LIKE HIV BODY PAIN, HEADACHE . THEN I HAVE TESTED HIV DUO COMBO TEST AFTER 3 MONTH EXPOSURE MY RESULT IS NON REACTIVE CAN I CONSIDER THIS AS A FINAL REPORT. BECAUSE I CAN CONSENDRATE ON MY WORK. PLEASE SUGGEST ME . I CAN’T ESCAPE MY SOUL HE KILLING ME EVERY DAY.

Hi, and thank you for your question

The 4th Generation HIV antibody test is accurate 3 months after potential exposure to the virus. So if you had a negative, or non-reactive, result 3 months after exposure, this means that you do not have HIV.

It sounds like you have quite a lot of anxiety about this encounter and the fear of HIV. Our Worry and Anxiety page has some helpful tips on managing when worries are taking over. If you find that you are unable to concentrate or function due to your anxiety, I would also recommend seeing someone like a counsellor or even a family doctor to discuss this.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I am from INDIA.I had unprotected gay oral sex many times and I had anal sex one time without condom. I had severe joint paints for 10 days and 10 to 15 rashes some of itchy some rashes are not itchy. I went to blood test I don’t know the last exposure day please help me. 1.hiv-ab-serum 2.hbsag-serum 3.anti-hcv-serum 4.tpha test for syphilis serum (immuno chromatographic) this all the test are negative. I went for hiv1 and hiv2 antibodies western blot serum test. Hiv1 and hiv 2 antibodies screening test 0.06 index

Hi

You are doing the correct action by going for a test. A STI/HIV test will let you know if something was passed to you. The symptoms you have described can be caused by many different medical conditions so would not be a reliable way to know if you have an STI or not. For the best care it would be good to mention the symptoms you are having to the person that did your testing.

Given the type of sex you described I would recommend getting a full STI test which would include:

(1) Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing from the throat, rectum and urine. Wait at least 2 weeks after sex before doing these tests for the best accuracy.

(2) HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C blood test. We find that most of these infections would show up by 6 weeks after they passed to someone, but we still recommend doing a final test at 3 months just to make sure.   

It’s great that your blood tests came back negative, but the main factor is how long after the sex did you do the test? Even just a rough idea would be enough information; you don’t need to be exact to the day. If it has been at least 6 weeks from the time when you had sex until your blood test that is a great result and means there is a high chance you are fine, but we still recommend a final test at 3 months to make sure.     

As most STI/HIV do not show symptoms we recommend that people go for regular testing every 3-6 months if there is a chance something could have passed to you.

Condoms offer great protection against HIV and other STI.  I am unsure of the situation in India but in Canada we are also finding that PREP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is becoming very popular in terms of a tool that can stop HIV passing to you.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any further questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

My herpes is Reactive Herpes simplex virus Igg my first test and my 2nd test same also. I dont have any symptoms, outbreak or sores ever since. I need some explanation so I can understand. So i take another test specific type of Hsv 1 and 2. Is there any possible the result will be negative? Thanks.

Hi, and thanks for your question

As you’ve indicated, there are two types of herpes virus – HSV-1 and HSV-2. The lesions, or blisters, commonly appear either on the mouth as cold sores, or on the genitals. Herpes is a very common virus which is very easily passed through skin to skin contact. So not only can it be passed through sexual contact, but it can be passed through more casual skin to skin contact like kissing. For this reason some people are exposed to the virus at quite a young age, and the longer the virus has been present, the less frequently people notice outbreaks. In fact, some people never experience an outbreak of sores at all even though they carry the virus.

As such, it is unlikely that if you repeat the test that it will be negative. In fact, we often discourage people from testing for herpes using the blood test since it provides very little clinical information and often causes quite a lot of anxiety about a virus that is generally considered to be pretty harmless.

You might find our Herpes: Patient’s Guide helpful for more information.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Hi,Thank you for the quick reply! Question was: —————————Hi, I’m a male and had an unprotected vaginal sex. I tested at 21 days(3 weeks), 42 days(6 weeks), and 60 days (8 weeks) all negative 4th generation HIV test. I’ve been having rash that come and goes in the morrnings or random times of the day (chest) and on my 9th week I have gotten swollen lymph nodes. All the nurses and drs tell me at 8th week its conclusive but I keep stressing with my symptoms————————–ANWSER: Hi, thanks for writing in with your concerns. With the fourth generation HIV test, you can be reassured that you do not have HIV and there is no need to do any further HIV tests. You did not say if you also did any STI testing around chlamydia ( most common STI) gonorrhea or syphilis and if you have not already done these tests, then please do them to cover the possibility of exposure from over 8 weeks ago. if you have persistent swollen lymph glands and a rash, please consider seeing another doctor for assessment where testing and treatment for conditions other that STI’s might be recommended.———————————-To reply to your questions;1. I did test for all the other STDs and its negative.2. My worry was – what if I’m seroconverting at 9 weeks – because my neck lymph nodes are super swollen and hurts – would the test still have picked up something at 3,6, and 8 weeks?

Hi, and thanks for writing in again.

If you have a negative 4th Generation HIV antibody test done 12 weeks after a sexual risk or exposure, then you can be reassured that you do not have HIV from this encounter. 

Sore, swollen lymph nodes are what we call a “non-specific” symptom which means it could be attributed to any number of things, most likely a common cold or some other viral throat infection. Swollen lymph nodes are not specifically a symptom of HIV or of seroconversion. 

It does sound like you are maybe feeling quite anxious about an HIV infection, and so you may want to consider speaking with a counsellor or another health care provider such as a doctor or nurse if you are having difficulty trusting the negative result from your multiple HIV tests.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions
or concerns.
Health Nurse

My partner knew she has gonerrhea and without telling me passed on to me. What can I do I’m sure she’s given to other men before we left bc we in Ontario now

Hi, and thanks for writing in with your question

The most important thing is for you to make sure you get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to ensure that you take the treatment as a contact to a gonorrhea infection. It’s important to wait for 7 days after you take the treatment before having sex with anyone to ensure the infection is completely gone.

If you are still with your partner, it is also important that she also took the treatment for the gonorrhea infection. Even if you both took the treatment, waiting for 7 days before having sex again is important to make sure the infection doesn’t persist and continue to go back and forth between the two of you.

With regards to possible other partners, the testing provider will have had a conversation with your partner about informing any additional partners to get tested and treated. There is nothing you need to do on her behalf.

If you had a positive gonorrhea result from your testing, then the doctor or nurse that did your tests should have a conversation with you about informing any of your other partners from the previous 2 months as well.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I took Cipro and was tested for STI about week later. Can taking antibiotics affect the outcome of the test

Hi, and thanks for writing in with your question

We recommend waiting for 4 weeks after taking antibiotics before doing any testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The reason for this is that sometimes we treat non-STI infections with the same antibiotics that can treat STIs.

Once antibiotics kill an infection it can take the body 3-4 weeks to actually get rid of the dead bacteria. Some STI tests (specifically the ones for chlamydia and gonorrhea) are so sensitive that they will detect the residual protein from the dead bacteria and report it as positive. This is essentially a “false positive” result, but it often leads to an additional, unnecessary dose of antibiotics if a testing provider doesn’t realize the infection could already have been treated with the previous antibiotics.

I hope this makes sense! If your STI testing was all negative 1 week after the ciprofloxacin, then you don’t need to worry. If something comes back positive on your tests, then I would recommend speaking with your care provider about the possibility of an already-treated infection.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I am going throuh the toughest time of my life due to an unfortunate risky potential exposure I had. I would greatly appreciate if a hiv treatment expert answers this question. 6 days after the incident I had fever, lymph nodes, sore throat and wet cough. All except cough went away in 3-4 days. I saw a doctor for cough – it went away in another 5-6 days after I had ascoril syrup and monocef 200 tab. On 20th day i experienced a dull burning feeling on left side of my groin (maybe slightly above testacle). This very dull burning feeling spread to my whole groin, testacle and later to the lower thighs , inner thighs of both legs. From 22nd day I experienced knee pain as well. By 24th day groin pain decreased , left leg thigh pain decreased. Now on 31st day I have slight pain on my crouch. My right leg is still paining – a numb burning feeling from crouch to toe . What’s wrong with me?. Also on 64 days of exposure I did hiv fourth generation test and it came back negative the following day , I did additional test at 74 days it came back negative using the fourth generation Elisa test is mine result conclusive

Hi, and thanks for writing in with your question

The window period (time between when a person comes in contact with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and when the STI will show up on a test) for HIV is 3 months. If you have had a negative HIV antibody test 3 months or more after the encounter, this means that you do not have HIV.

Unfortunately it is not possible to determine what is causing your symptoms without seeing you in person. I recommend revisiting your doctor for further assessment if you are worried about continued symptoms. However, what I can tell you is that none of the symptoms that you have described are symptoms specific to an HIV infection. These symptoms could be caused by any number of different things. 

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse