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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)

i broke out in red bumps, sores down there like last year. I went to go get it check out and the nurse said it might’ve been herpes. i got soo scared and depressed. Before i left she said “it might or it might be not.. ” Then the results came back, they only told me i had chlamydia and gohnorrhea, but said nothing about the herpes? Can those stis cause sores having it at the same time? Its been 2 years since those sores broke out, ive never had the same thing since.

Thanks for your question.
Were you tested for herpes at the time you tested positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea? Because they should have done a swab on your genital sores, and if they had a positive result from the swab they would have told you. It’s very likely that it wasn’t herpes.
As far as your past symptoms of the sores… we don’t usually think of sores associated with chlamydia and gonorrhea, however those infections can cause increased discharge, and that discharge can irritate the genital tissues and cause skin breakdown. Skin breakdown can feel like small cuts or tears in the skin, which can be painful and sting. Any painful sore will be suspected to be herpes, which is likely why the nurse said that.
The fact that you haven’t had any repeat sores show up, makes it even less likely that it was herpes.
Since you weren’t given an official herpes diagnosis based on your testing, I would assume it was not herpes.
Herpes can be scary to think about, but I hope you can feel better about this now.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions, or need more information.
Health Nurse

I went to a massage parlor, where the lady got naked and gave me an erotic massage. Firstly she gave me a massage with her hands , then she used her whole body to rub against me. She kissed my face, neck and my body-though there was no french kiss, oral or penetrative sex. I have touched her vagina a bit and also the vagine might have rubber over my body including penis during massaging. The massage ended with she giving me a handjob. shes also sick and was coughing in between while massagingI forgot about the incident but last week I had fever and accompanied with body rashes which made me worried and convinced that Iam infected. The rashes are still there, I tested for HIV with duo combo and PCR. Mind you this is just 3rd week. I got my combo results negative, now I am awaiting PCR .Can I have your comments?


The activities you describe would not put you at risk for HIV. HIV is passed when blood and/or body fluids enter into your body through a vein or orifice. Since you describe no oral or penetrative sex, there is no risk for HIV.

Other STIs, such syphilis, herpes, and the human papilloma virus are easily passed through skin-to-skin contact.

It’s difficult to say what’s causing your symptoms, however it is unlikely to be an STI from the massage parlor encounter you describe (as rashes at 2-3 weeks are not consistent with syphilis, herpes, or HPV). Some things to think about: the rashes may be an allergic reaction to oils or products used at the massage parlor, or to perfumes worn by the masseuse. I would recommend going to see a family doctor or walk-in clinic regarding the rashes, especially if they are persisting.

The HIV PCR test is 90% accurate at 12 days, so you can feel pretty sure already that it’s not HIV.

Hope this helps.

Please feel free to submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

My lymphosites getting low after unprotected sex now it is only 14% (20-40normal) after 5 months of exposure (vaginal+oral) With unknown lady. But my combo and rapid test at 3&5 months are negative. I have a lot of symptoms diarrhea, extremely fatigue, yeast infection on tongue since 5 months. Is it due to acute hiv infection and RNA PCR helpful for my situation?


It’s not possible for someone to say that someone has HIV because of a low percentage of lymphocytes and the symptoms you described, as this can be caused by other medical conditions and is not specific to just HIV. But I could see why someone would be concerned especially after a sexual risk that could have passed HIV. 

A HIV test is really specific for HIV and since you did the test at 3 months it would be very accurate. Given this I would say that it is not HIV that is causing this problem for you and a HIV PCR test would not be helpful.

I would talk with the health professional who ordered the test for you. It would be good for you to have a conversation with them about your blood test results and the symptoms you are having. Hopefully they would be able to give you some idea of what could be causing the problem or do further investigations to see what could be going on.

Health Nurse

Hi. Am sharot from Uganda I had possible exposure on 17th July condom broke with man tested HIV positive.at 2nd August I tested, at 14th September non reactive the value number was 0.9,9th October negative they use alert determani rapid HIV test ag/ab, and at 27th October alert determine (ab) negative.my question is do I need to get tested again at 6months? coz I got all symptoms and I still have flu-like symptoms.


This website is based in Canada, and we cannot comment on the tests you had done in Uganda. I don’t know if they are the same tests we use in Canada, or if the tests are different.

In Canada, the 4th generation HIV test (AG/AB) is not a rapid test, but a blood tube we send to the lab. This test is 75% accurate at 3 weeks, and 100% after 3 months.

We also have the rapid test (called an Insiti test) which is a 3rd generation HVI test (AB only). This test is 90% after 4 weeks, and 100% after 3 months.

If you used our test, we would say that you don’t have HIV given a negative test from Oct 27th, which is more than 3 months past the date of potential exposure.

I would just ask the people who did your testing for the window period of the test they used. I would be surprised if it is very different than the 4th generation test we use.

Lastly, regarding your flu-like symptoms, those symptoms can be caused by mange things, including stress, seasonal cold/flu, etc. We would not suspect HIV just based on your symptoms.

Hope this helps!

Please feel free to submit another question if needed

Health Nurse

have some stupid mistakes in my life and I am paying heavily for this Episode. #1 october 29,2014 I had protected vaginal sex with a female csw.I also french kissed her.Later found the girl HIV +.After 5 weeks I experienced severe flue type illness.Swollen lymph nodes under jaw and neck,loose stool,hedeach,severe muscle and joint pain,rash on both arm. I have tested after 3 months with 3rd generation rapid test,after 5 months with 3rd generation elisa, after 6.5 months with 3rd generation rapid test.All are negative.#Episode 2 November 17 2015 I was with a female csw..We were fully naked.The girl offered me to have unprotected sex with her.As far as I can recall I didn’t penetrate the girl but my penis came close to her vagina.Now my mind says if I penetrated the girl without my knowing though I didn’t feel anything. Episode 3# July 16 2017 I had protected oral and protected vaginal sex with a female csw.Dont know why? Vaginal part only lasted 10-15 seconds.The girl seemed a consistent condom user.No real symptom aftee 1-4 weeks. Episode 4 # October 17 2017 I had protected vaginal sex with a csw.She offered me to have sex without a condom for extra charge.But she assured me she gets tested every month. Now you are thinking whats the real problemActually Im experiencing the symptom of overt aids.Lose of appetite,Loosing weight,fatigue, dizziness ,swollen lymph nodes,loose stool,stomach upset,nail fungus,clubbing nail and slight dementia are making my life hell. I dont know what to do? I cry and pray to God.Ive ruined my life.In my country HIV stigma is very deep and like a death sentence.


It sounds like you are really worried that HIV has passed to you. With what you have written it sounds like you used a condom when you had vaginal sex, which would provide great protection against HIV.

The symptoms you have described are symptoms that can be caused by other medical conditions other than HIV. This means it’s not accurate to use symptoms as a way to see if HIV has passed to you. The only way to find out if HIV has been passed to you is by doing a HIV test. We find that 3rd (antibody) and 4th gen (Antigen/Antibody) HIV tests would give you a final result after 3 months. I see that you’re last testing was back in 2014. I am wondering if you have considered going for another HIV test.

I know it can be difficult going for a HIV test when you fear the worst. It is also made so much worse if you’re in a country that has a high degree of stigma and danger when someone has HIV.

This must be a hard decision for you to make, but going for a test will not change the fact if HIV is there or not, it will just let you know your status. If it’s a bit of information that you really want to know it may be possible to get an anonymous test somewhere or possible get a home based kit so that you keep that information private. If you’re unsure if it’s the correct time to test it may be helpful to find a person you trust and ask them if you could talk to them about the advantages/disadvantages of going for a test.

It’s common for us to see people at our clinic who are worried that their current health concerns have been caused by HIV and they fear going to their doctor for a test. We offer them a way to do an anonymous test so if they are HIV negative they can then go to their family doctor knowing that it is not HIV causing their health concerns.

Let us know if it would be easier for you to chat with a nurse on our chat line about this.

Health Nurse

Good morning, I would like to do a HIV test, I always had protected sex but recently i started having sex without condom with my boyfriend (I take the birth control pill). Should I book an appointment if I want to do the test? Thank you for your time


It really depends on what is the easiest for you and what clinic you want to go to. In BC Canada most clinics would be able to offer HIV/STI testing for example family doctor’s, walk in clinics, youth clinics etc.

Some clinics require you to book an appointment before going, walk in only or a combination of appointment and walk in. I would call the clinic you are planning to visit to see what type of system they have.

Let us know if you need any assistance with finding a clinic in your area. You can also have a look at our clinic finder for a list of some clinics in your area.

Health Nurse

I had protected sex with an escort 53 days ago which only lasted few seconds as she started bleeding, she said it was unexpected period but I think it was fake blood and an excuse to leave.there was some of that “blood” on the condom but the condom was intact I made sure to not touch the blood when taking the condom off. Ever since I am worried that I might have contracted HIV. after 2 weeks I had a light headache which lasted couple days and slight pain in my arm muscles which I still have it today, I was also checking my tongue daily until I develop thrush mostly on back of my tongue, I feel lymph nodes around my right ear are slightly swollen. I tested with HIV Combo test 16 days which came back negative and again 39 days after the exposure with same negative result. But I can’t stop worrying, why would I get these symptoms if I don’t have HIV? Can my symptoms be result of stress and anxiety? should I take a viral load test to be 100% sure?


We don’t see HIV passing with the type of sex you have described; condoms provide great protection against HIV.

The symptoms you have listed are common symptoms that can be caused by many different conditions and are not specific to having HIV. It’s great that you went for a HIV test as that is the only way to find out if HIV was passed.

A negative HIV combo test (antigen/antibody) at 39 days is really good as that is 95% accurate at that time period. I would recommend a final test at 3 months to make sure for peace of mind, but given a negative test at 39 days and using a condom for vaginal sex I would not expect any surprises. There is no need to do a viral load test.

It’s common that people can develop symptoms with anxiety/stress. It’s also possible for stress to also lower the immune system and to make it easier to get other medical conditions that can cause various symptoms. If concerned about your current symptoms it may be worth visiting a clinic to discuss these symptoms or to get a general check-up.

Also have a look at our worry page it has some helpful hints on how to reduce worry/stress.

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

Health Nurse

How long does it generally take to get HIV tests back?


We find most people will have their HIV test completed by 1 week. Sometimes it can take a bit longer if the person lives in a rural area and the specimen needs to travel to the place of testing.

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

Health Nurse

I had unprotected sex with a stranger and I’m worried. How long after sex can I get tested. I have no symptoms but it’s only been a week.


Thanks for your question.

The time it takes between contact with an STI, and when you can get an accurate test is different for each infection. We call this the STI’s “window period”. Some STIs can show-up within a week, and others can take a few months.

Generally for testing we recommend waiting until 3-4 weeks after sex. If you want to re-test after 3 months, that would give you your final results. If you have any symptoms arise, we would recommend going in to a healthcare professional sooner.

For more information check out our Types of STIs chart. The chart gives the window period for each STI. If you’re concerned about a specific STI you can see when would be most accurate to test.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

Can you please confirm the 4th Generation window period is 12 weeks or 13 weeks or 90 days? Peel Health from Ontario says 12th week is conclusive. catie.ca do mention 4th generation is 99% accurate at 6 weeks, however, it doesn’t seem like from the previous post from this forum (as I read from last post 6 weeks – 95% and 3 months 99%). My exposure was protected oral sex (receiver), again as per this site its no risk (even without protection for the receiver), however health nurse from Peel health hospital doesn’t agree with this. (Maybe I haven’t understood it correctly) HIV test done at 67 days is non-reactive and did another at 88 days (waiting for results). I wanted to make sure I am doing a test at the correct time and can move forward.


Thanks for writing.

You are correct that receiving oral sex (without or without protection) is not a risk factor for HIV. If the protected oral sex was your only risk for HIV we would not recommend testing based on that risk.

HIV is passed when blood and/or sexual fluids enter into a person’s body (ie. inside the vagina, anus, or penis). For HIV to be passed to someone while receiving oral sex, there would have to be significant blood in their partner’s saliva. Small amounts of blood will be diluted by the saliva in the mouth, and there is not enough virus to actually pass HIV. We do not see HIV being passed through receiving oral sex.

Regarding your HIV testing: The 4th generation HVI test is considered to be 95% accurate at 6 weeks, and 99%+ accurate after 12 weeks. There is no difference in accuracy if someone tests at 12 weeks (84 days), 90 days or 3 months. The reason some places say 90 days or 3 months is for convenience, people may remember this easier that 84 days or even 12 weeks. Your test at 67 days would be considered very accurate, and your test at 88 days will be conclusive.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to post a comment below or submit another question.

Health Nurse