Topic Tuesday: How soon after unprotected sex will an STI show up on a test?

Great question! It actually depends on which STI you may have come into contact with. For example, it can take three months for HIV to show up on a test, but it only takes a few days for sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis to show up.

An STI starts by a pathogen (a virus, bacteria or other types of microbes) entering your body either vaginally, orally or anally. As soon as any of these pathogens enter the body, they start reproducing and only once they have reproduced a certain amount do they show up on a test or cause your body to have any sort of reaction (symptoms.) This is also why you may not have symptoms right away, or even if you have already tested positive.

In general, here is when you can test for an STI after unprotected sex:


24 Hours – 5 Days


2 – 6 Days


3 – 7 Days


3 – 6 Weeks

HIV (Antibody Test)

1 – 3 Months

HIV (RNA Test)

9 – 11 Days

It is important to keep in mind that you may get a false negative if you test too early because the infection cannot yet be detected. Because of this, we may recommend you come back for a second test to verify your initial results.

Because many STIs commonly show no symptoms, it is imperative to get a regular STI screening and especially when you have had a new sexual partner. Keep in mind that no matter which type of birth control you use, a condom is the ONLY thing that can protect you from an STI.

Have questions or need to make an appointment? Call (877) 883.7264 or visit our website to book an appointment online.