Detecting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) soon after exposure is crucial for timely treatment and prevention of further transmission. However, the time it takes for an STI to be detectable varies depending on the type of infection and the tests used.

Read on to learn more about when you can know if you have an STI. Or, if you’d like to talk to someone and get STI testing and treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Alpha Women’s Resource Center. We can provide you with a no-cost appointment. 

How Soon Can I Know?

Different STIs have different incubation periods, which is the time between exposure to the infection and when symptoms first appear or when a test can detect the infection. 

Bacterial Infections

Chlamydia and gonorrhea, both bacterial infections, typically become detectable within one to two weeks after exposure. Testing too early might result in a false negative. 


HIV can take several weeks to a few months to be detectable by standard tests, with most modern tests able to detect it within two to four weeks. 


Syphilis has varying stages, with the primary stage showing symptoms, such as a sore, within ten to ninety days. However, blood tests might not detect syphilis until one to two weeks after symptoms appear. 


Herpes can present symptoms, such as sores or blisters, within two to twelve days, but testing is more accurate after the sores have appeared. 


Human papillomavirus (HPV) often shows no symptoms, and there is no routine screening for men. Women can be screened via Pap smears, which can detect changes in cervical cells caused by HPV, but it may take months or years for these changes to appear.

If You Think You’ve Been Infected

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to an STI, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider about the appropriate time to get tested based on the type of infection and potential exposure date. Regular STI screenings are recommended for sexually active individuals, especially those with multiple partners or unprotected sex.

Early detection of STIs is essential for effective treatment and prevention. Knowing the incubation periods can help you determine when to get tested. For specific guidance, always consult with a healthcare professional.

Get No-Cost STI Testing And Treatment

Alpha Women’s Resource Center offers women no-cost and confidential testing and treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Screening for these STIs involves a simple urine test.

Testing and treatment are available for both men and women. You don’t have to be a client or pregnant to receive care. Schedule an appointment today. Walk-ins are accepted if there is availability. 

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