Getting regularly tested for HIV is a big way to take care of your health. You can go to your local clinic to get tested for free and you don’t have to make an appointment!
What steps will you need to take if you want to get tested at the clinic? Let’s find out!
Step 1 – Finding a clinic
You’ll need to start by finding a clinic that you can go to for the test. It can either be the local clinic in your area or another one that you feel comfortable going to. Remember, you don’t need to make an appointment to test for HIV at the clinic.
Step 2 – Pre-counselling
When you get to the clinic and ask to test for HIV, the healthcare provider will offer you pre-counselling before the test. During pre-counselling, the provider will talk to you about what your result could mean (whether it’s negative or positive) and they will also ask you about whether you were potentially exposed to HIV and if you use condoms.
Pre-counselling is optional but it can help you prepare for your test result and you can ask any questions you may have.
Step 3 – Getting tested
The healthcare provider will then take a small sample of blood from your finger. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt and you may only feel a small prick!
Public clinics commonly use rapid HIV tests which means that your results are ready within 20 minutes. If your test is sent to a lab, then you will have to wait for your results from between a day to two weeks.
Step 4 – Your results
If your test result is negative, it means HIV was not picked up in your blood in the test.
- Important note: If it’s possible that you were exposed to HIV within 3 months before taking the test, you should take an HIV test again in 6-12 weeks to confirm the negative results. This is because of the window period.
- What is the window period? This is the time from when a person is infected with HIV to when an HIV test is actually able to find the HIV antibodies in their saliva or blood. Antibodies are something your body makes to help you fight off a virus.
If your test result is positive, it means HIV was picked up in your blood in the test.
- Important note: If your result is positive then a second test will be done to make sure that the result is correct.
- If the second test is also positive, it is confirmed that you have HIV.
- You can start treatment immediately. It possible to live a long and healthy life with HIV. The sooner you start with treatment, the better the treatment works.
- The healthcare provider will explain how treatment works and what you can expect.
If you would like to talk to someone about your HIV status, our friends at loveLife are here for you. All you need to do is send a PLEASE CALL ME to 083 323 1023 and a trained counsellor will call you back.
Want to find out where else you can go to get tested for HIV? Find out here.
Remember, HIV treatment works and people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Learn more here.
If your test result is negative, learn more about methods that you can use to prevent HIV here.