Dear BlackDoctor: “How Often Should I Get Tested For HIV?”

There are billboards, commercials, flyers, radio ads and more about the importance of getting tested for HIV. But, just taking an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) test once may not be enough. How many times or how often should you take the test?

About 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV don’t know they have it.

Many people will not have any symptoms of HIV when they are first infected with HIV. However, some people do have a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure. This illness may include:

-Fever

-Headache

-Tiredness

-Enlarged lymph nodes (glands of the immune system easily felt in the neck and groin).

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According to AIDS.gov, these HIV symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month, and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, people are highly infectious (can easily spread the virus), and HIV is present in large quantities in genital fluids.

Symptoms of HIV and the “Asymptomatic” Period

More persistent or severe symptoms of HIV may not appear for 10 years or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or for 2 years in children born with HIV infection. This period of “asymptomatic” infection (without HIV symptoms) varies greatly in each individual. Some people may begin to have symptoms within a few months, while others may be symptom-free for more than 10 years.

Even during the asymptomatic period, the virus is…