Knowing the STD incubation period for the most common infections will let you know when you should be getting tested and avoid false negative results.
Here are the incubation periods for the most common STDs:
Chlamydia takes as little as one day to incubate in your system, but you can detect and treat it within five days of infection. We recommend you retest yourself two weeks after you’ve completed your course of antibiotics to make sure you’re in the clear.
Gonorrhea (or ‘the clap’) takes 2-6 days to incubate. Treatment is a simple course of antibiotics and you should retest yourself two weeks after finishing treatment.
Syphilis takes a little longer to incubate than ‘the chlam’ and the clap. With an incubation period of 3-6 weeks, syphilis highlights the importance of keeping track of your sexual activity so that you can narrow down which partner you may have contracted it from, and to whom you might have spread it. Retesting is recommended two weeks after treatment ends.
Hepatitis A takes 2-7 weeks to incubate. There’s no cure for Hep A, so retesting isn’t necessary. Don’t freak out, though: the virus generally doesn’t cause any long-term problems, and symptoms–if any–are treatable.
Hepatitis B incubates over the course of 3-6 weeks with symptoms usually showing up 3 months after infection. Like Hep A, there’s currently no cure for Hep B, so retesting isn’t necessary.
The incubation period for Hepatitis C is 8-9 weeks, and experts recommend retesting 3 months after a positive test result to confirm the diagnosis. Unlike Hepatitis A and B, Hep C is curable and treatable.
Both oral and genital herpes are extremely common. The incubation period for each is 4-6 weeks. Since there’s no cure for herpes, retesting isn’t necessary. However, you can quell flare ups with medication.
Your body will produce antibodies to fight the infection of HIV. After infection, it takes about 1-3 months for your body to produce enough of these antibodies for a test to accurately detect them. Unfortunately, false positives can occur when testing for HIV, so we strongly recommend retesting after getting a positive result.
The genetic material that composes HIV is called ribonucleic acid (RNA). Labs can detect genetic material in the bloodstream 9-11 days after infection, so this test is considered more sensitive than the HIV antibody test. However, we highly recommend retesting after a positive result.