HIV Testing Information

There are many places to go get a confidential and some cases anonymous HIV test. You can get tested at your primary physician office, most local and state health departments, clinics, and many non-clinic settings. Where you get tested depends on several things including your comfort level, desired privacy level and how fast you want your results. All these things will help determine the testing site you choose.

The HIV test can be performed rapidly where you get your results in 20-40 minutes or conventional where the results are sent out to a lab and results are available 7-14 days. Both tests are accurate however, if you get a positive result the test has to be ran again, a “confirmatory tests,” to confirm the results and this may be done at another location. The tests can be performed by taking a blood sample or cells from the inside of the mouth (gum area). There is also an at home tests that can be purchased at most pharmacies and you test yourself and send the results into a lab for testing.

A positive test result means your body has been infected with HIV and that you are capable of transmitting it to others. The test does not look for the actual virus itself, but found evidence of it in your blood. There is no way to tell from this result who gave you the virus, how long you have had it, when it will begin to affect your health or if you will get AIDS. You may see or hear the results called “HIV positive,” “HIV+,” “HIV-antibody positive,” or “seropositive for HIV.” These terms all mean the same thing.  Only a doctor can tell you if you have AIDS; the HIV test does not give that information.

People who have been infected with HIV are said to have “HIV disease.” While the virus itself is not a disease, it progressively damages the body’s immune system. This puts you at risk for developing illnesses you would not otherwise get. At this time, doctors do not know of any way to rid the body of HIV. There is no cure. Once you’ve been infected, you have it for life.

For more information about finding a testing site please enter your zip code in the testing site finder on the S.H.A.P.E. home page. Also, go to for more HIV testing questions.

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