Look, we all know it happens: you got Lost in the Fire over The Weekend, and you had to do what you had to do.

You just had a sexy night out or an extended weekend and you’ve woken up with a world of worry. If your first thought is how long after sex should I get tested for a STD, that doesn’t as much fun. That’s a lot of stress – probably because the risk was so recent. Take a sec, breathe, and know you are in good company. Guaranteed, you’re not the only person who woke up with that same thought.

Or perhaps, it’s simply that time, whether you are monogamous, polyamorous, or anywhere in between, it’s important to get tested. As anxious and complicated as it may seem, just know, you are not alone.

As with many people who have had unprotected sex, they have questions about how long after “getting’ frisky” they should they get tested. Before we get there, let’s define unprotected sex. Typically, it means no condom. It may also include your partner being unaware of your status. It can mean being intimate with a condom, but you are not on PrEP, or if your person is HIV positive and has not reached undetectable status yet. Unprotected can mean any of those things or a combination.

Alrighty, here are some instances that you may relate to:

  • You had sex. 
  • This was your first time having sex. 
  • You usually use a condom but not this one time. Perhaps the condom broke.  This includes anal, oral, or vaginal sex.
  • You’re dating one person but hooked up with somebody else. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, you can get tested less frequently. Having sex with additional partners should call for more frequent tests. We also assume everyone is in a monogamous relationship. It’s not true. Think about your situation and ask whoever you’re having sex with for test updates.
  • It’s literally work. If you’re a sex worker and having sex with anonymous partners, honest conversations are not always included — this includes transactional sex. You are at higher risk for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia and should get tested after sex. Test frequently while engaging in sex work and include condoms, dental dams, PrEP, and having conversations about your health status and your partners before intercourse.
  • You’ve had an infection before and been treated. After treatment, it’s suggested to be tested every three months.
  • In general – It’s a good idea to be tested about 3 months after you’ve been treated if you are sexually active.

These scenarios are common, and we do not want you to worry. Things happen and you adapt. The most important thing is the timing, be sure to get screened shortly after sex.

How long after unprotected sex should I get tested?

This may seem odd, but we recommend you wait a couple weeks or even a month to get tested. A test won’t be able to tell you the results immediately after intercourse, especially depending on the STI you have been exposed to. HIV may take up to two months before showing positive on a test while gonorrhea may take between two to six days to show up. Even though medicine and technology have advanced so much, it seems miraculous, things still take time. Even the recent and improved tests still need processing time.

However, you could get a test immediately AND do another test in four weeks. This way you can set a benchmark from your last negative test. Plus, you can talk to your doctor about PEP which is short for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. This can come in handy in high-risk situations.

A recommended timetable for testing after unprotected sex:

  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia (and a pregnancy test too!): 2 weeks
  • Syphilis: 1 week to 3 months
  • HIV, Hepatitis C and B: 6 weeks to 2 months

Akeem and Fiona are here to help. Please give us a call now and we can chat about getting tested and PrEP.

Have questions?

If you’ve got more questions about PrEP, it’s easy to get answers. Just text or call the Cleveland PrEP Navigators:

AKeem Rollins, MetroHealth – Call or Text 216.714.2223

Fiona Allan, University Hospitals
Call 216.286.7737

Email AKeem at Metro for PrEP

Email Fiona at UH for PrEP