The time it takes from infection to illness for each STD is different, from days to several weeks. Most STDs show no symptoms at all. Talk to a health care provider to find out what is right for you.
You can be exposed to STDs through skin contact (herpes, syphilis, HPV) or by exchanging body fluids like semen and vaginal fluid (chlamydia, gonorrhea) or by fecal matter (Hepatitis A and B). Condoms work very well at preventing most of these exposures. If you think you have STD symptoms, get tested right away. If someone you have had sex with recently told you they were infected or if someone from Public Health called you about your sex partner testing positive, get tested right away. A health care provider may treat you before test results are back if your partner already tested positive for an STD.
Exposure to HIV is only by exchange of body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. No matter what kind of HIV test you get, there is a short period of time right after infection when the tests won't be able to detect signs of HIV, even if you are infected. This is called a "window period." If you get tested too soon (during the window period), your results may be wrong. How long you must wait depends on the type of test you take
NOTE: if you think you had an exposure to HIV, ask about PEP.
For antibody testing in a clinic setting:
It's best to test three to four weeks after a possible exposure and again at three to six months.
For antibody testing using a home testing kit:
Home HIV test kits can give accurate results three months after infection. If a home test is positive, go to your doctor or a clinic right away for second test to confirm the result.
For RNA testing:
Most people will get accurate results 1-2 weeks after infection, although it may take up to a month or two in rare cases. Because starting people on treatment very soon after infection can help protect their health, if you think you may have been infected, test right away. This is particularly important if you have symptoms that might come from acute HIV (fever, fatigue, sore throat, muscle aching, rash).