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HIV and AIDS

How Long Does It Take For You To Get Infected After Intercourse?

11/10/2003

Question:

How long does it take to become infected after sexual intercuorse? I have heard about a pill that you can take the day after that can help prevent the spread of HIV, is this true?

Answer:

I assume from the second part of your question that the first part also refers to HIV infection. It takes only a matter of a few hours to a few days for the virus to infect the cells in the human body. The acute symptoms of HIV infection, which occur about half the time and consist of sore throat, rash, fever, swollen glands and headache, will generally occur in about 2 to 3 weeks.

There is no approved "morning after pill" which can be taken to prevent HIV infection following a sexual exposure. This is prescribed by some physicians in some circumstances, but there is no scientific data to say that it would work reliably. If you wish more information on this subject you can access www.aidsinfo.nih.gov and look at the section labeled post-exposure prophylaxis.

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Response by:

Peter Grubbs, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati