Can HIV lay dormant and not be detectable for 10 years?

Originally Posted: 
Monday, June 28, 2010

Hi, I have been married for 10 yrs and when I became pregnant when I was 13 week's pregnant I had a cervical cerclage put on so my husband and I didn't have any intercourse within 6 months. When I was 7 months pregnant we both got tested for HIV, I was negative but he was positive.
After the baby was born he was tested (the baby) and also was negative still after 10 yrs. I get tested every 6 months for HIV and I am still negative. My husband a little after being diagnosed as positive was also diagnosed with having full blown AIDS. I never had sex with him without protection after that but still get tested every 6 months. Should I worry? Does it stay dormant for this long?
By the way we are no longer together but should I still worry and keep testing every 6 months,I just found out he is Bisexual and uses drugs, so I believe during this time when we were NOT having sex for those 6 months he had contact with someone and contracted the virus while out on many drug binges.
Can it be that he cheated at that time and that's why I am still negative? I just got tested again about 3 months ago and I'm still negative even after 10 yrs. I still test negative, should I still worry?


Thank you for using AIDS Vancouver Helpline online as your source for HIV/AIDS related information!
It sounds like you got lucky that you and your son weren't infected but what you should know is that there is no need for further testing because of your experiences with your ex husband.
There has never been a case where it lies dormant for that long. Testing today is so sensitive and specific that there is no way that it would not be detected by now.
Having said that, I'll also add that periodic testing is an important piece in practicing a good sexual health regime, for anyone that is sexually active.
Please let us know if we can direct you to any further information.
Wishing you good health,
AIDS Vancouver Helpline
Direct: 604.696.4666


Submitted by jewles (not verified) on

I have had a false positive show up. My dr did a wesrern spin that spun my blood for 2 days and it showd negative

Helpline1's picture
Submitted by Helpline1 on

Hi there and thanks for contacting us.

A "false positive" result is only discovered when a confirmatory test is given.  This is exactly what happened in your case.  

Your initial test results came back positive so your health care professional administered the Western Blot Test, which is standard protocol as a confirmatory test.  This test is considered to be the gold standard for confirmation of an HIV infection.

I trust I have addressed your concerns however, if you have further questions, feel free to contact us again.

In Health,

AIDS Vancouver Helpline Volunteer

Submitted by tomm cutt (not verified) on

I am happy to have come across this, particularly the one with the question, "Can HIV lay dormant and not be detectable after 10 years?" because I have the same misgivings. The only difference in my case is that I suspect to have gotten exposed 6 years earlier. I've had been tested last November, 2012, and just recently, July, 2013 (for the 3 month and 6 month window requirement), and both came out NON REACTIVE. So this really means that both tests eliminate the possibility of me contracting the virus 6 years before and still come out negative. Thanks for the clear explanation Ms. Heidi and more power to you and AIDS Vancouver.

Submitted by davidn on

Hello and thanks for choosing the Helpline. Your tests are considered conclusive and you were not exposed to HIV 6 years ago. HIV will not lie dormant in a persons bloodstream and actually, when a person is exposed to the virus, it replicates very quickly and can be detected with a standard HIV antibody test.

An HIV test is conclusive at just 12 weeks after infection.

Basically, you have never been exposed to HIV and you are indeed HIV negative.

All the best,


Submitted by tomm cutt (not verified) on

thanks, David, for your reply. I do hope you and and rest of your peers at Helpline continue to help people. More power to you and your advocacy.


The AIDS Vancouver Helpline is a volunteer-driven information, referral and support service related to HIV and sexual health. Volunteers are trained in active listening, HIV and sexual health information, and local resources and services. Volunteers are not doctors, nurses, or other licensed professionals. Volunteers do not give advice, and strive to provide service-users with adequate information and appropriate referrals.

Helpline volunteers uphold the agency’s confidentiality and privacy policies. Your calls, forum posts, and emails are anonymous. We welcome you to use a pseudonym or “fake name” when using Helpline services.  We will not ask for or track your personal information. To ensure that the Helpline program is providing quality services, the Helpline Coordinator regularly monitors online content (forum posts and emails) and supervises volunteers who are receiving calls.  

The Helpline Program should not be used in replacement of medical examination, diagnosis, advice counseling or follow-up care. We strongly recommend routine testing (HIV and STI tests) and discussing your healthcare directly with a physician.

We would love to hear from you! If you have feedback or questions related to the operations of the Helpline, please contact David at or by calling 604.696.4666.

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