Information on Non-reactive (Negative) HIV Test Results

You have received a non-reactive HIV test result today. This almost always means you are not living with HIV.

Does a non-reactive result mean I definitely do not have HIV?

There is a period between the time of getting HIV and the time that an HIV test can detect HIV infection. If you have engaged in risk behaviors for HIV during the month prior to your test, you should speak to your provider about your need to be re-tested for HIV.

What actions put you at risk for HIV?

  • Engaging in anal or vagnial intercourse
  • Sharing drug paraphernalia like syringes and cookers, or sharing needles used for tattoos or piercings
  • The use of drugs and/or alcohol can also put you at risk by making it harder for you to practice safe behavior

If you are planning to have a baby, or are pregnant:

Even if your test result is non-reactive today, testing and retesting of both the mother and the father may be indicated based on risk factors for HIV. It is important to know your HIV status because HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breastfeeding.

A non-reactive test provides opportunities to protect yourself from getting HIV:

  • Abstain - Not having sex or sharing needles, syringes or other drug injection equipment with a person who has HIV or whose HIV status you don't know is a sure way to protect yourself from HIV.
  • Use a latex male condom or female condom - Condoms work very well to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if you use them the right way, every time you have sex.
  • PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) - A daily pill that can prevent HIV infection. PrEP is very effective at preventing HIV. Ask your provider if PrEP may be right for you.
  • PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) - A medication that can protect you from HIV if you were recently exposed. If you start it within 2 hours of the exposure, it gives the best protection; if you start within 2-36 hours, it gives very good protection; between 36-72 hours it gives less protection as time passes; it is not started after 72 hours. If you think you were exposed to HIV through contact with someone who has or might have HIV, go immediately to an emergency room and ask for PEP.
  • Consider your drug use - Using drugs or alcohol causes changes in awareness, attitutde, consciousness and behavior and can lower your ability to make decisions about safer sex and using clean needles and works.
  • If you use needles or syringes:
    • Use new needles and equipment each time and don't share anything, including cotton or water.
    • Avoid buying needles on the street, even if they look new.
    • Expanded Syringe Access Programs: provides needles and syringes at pharmacies and other locations.
    • Syringe Access Programs: provides needles and syringes free of charge.
    • Do not share needles for ear piercing, body piercing or tattooing.