Am I at risk?

You have increased risk for HIV infection if you:

Learn more about HIV

What should I do if I think I was exposed to HIV?

  1. RIGHT AWAY, you should get PEP, a course of medication to keep you from developing HIV. PEP works BEST if started within 2-3 hours, but it must be started within 72 hours after exposure. If you live in or near King, Pierce or Snohomish Counties, call 206-744-4377 (8am-5pm). After hours, if you were exposed in the course of your work as a health professional, call 206-726-2619 and ask for the HIV doctor on call. For all other exposures after hours, go to the Harborview Hospital Emergency Room at 325 9th Ave in Seattle. 
  2. Both RNA and the newer antigen tests can usually detect HIV within two weeks after infection.

How long should I wait after possible exposure to get tested?

There is a short period of time just after infection when HIV 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 need to wait depends on the type of test you take. The window period for different tests can vary from two weeks to three months. The HIV home test kit sold in drug stores has a window period closer to three months. It can take this long for your body to make enough antibodies for the home test to show you have HIV. Keep in mind that during the window period, you can still pass the virus to another person. Early infection is one of the most infectious periods of time because of the amount of virus in the body. We recommend that if you’ve had an exposure, you should get an HIV antigen test or an HIV RNA test as early as two weeks after the exposure.

How does someone get HIV?

You can only be exposed to HIV by exchange of body fluids like blood and semen. HIV can be transmitted by:

What about a support system?

Emotions around a diagnosis of HIV can be complex. It's a good idea to think ahead about the process of actually getting your results. Do you think you'll need extra support? If so, plan a phone call to a friend, partner, or family member after you receive the news. Or if you wish, have someone come with you to your appointment.

3 Subpage Hero

What if I test positive?


Find any emotional support you need. It may help to talk with family, friends or a professional counselor. Or you may need to spend a little time on your own before talking about it with others. In either situation, if you need support, you can get it at:

King County

Pierce County

  • Pierce County AIDS Foundation: Medical Case Management, counseling and support, prevention services, linkage to care
  • The Rainbow Center: info and referral information for and about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community

Snohomish County


Find a healthcare provider. Even if you feel healthy, find a healthcare provider and talk about treatment options or other health issues you may have. Getting treatment for HIV is easier than ever, so there's no reason to wait to get into care.


Tell any previous sex partners. It’s important to let all your sex partners know that they should get tested for HIV. If they’re infected, they’ll probably want to know. Plan to tell everyone you’ve been with since your last negative HIV test. If you feel uneasy doing this, Public Health can help. A Public Health counselor can walk you through how to tell a partner or even be with you when you break the news. A counselor can also contact partners anonymously to explain that a previous sex partner has tested positive for HIV and offer free HIV testing. No information is given about you. All of these services are free.

For help contacting sex partners call:
  • 206-744-4377 in King County
  • 253-798-3805 in Pierce County
  • 425-339-5298 in Snohomish County