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Testing for HIV at the pharmacy

There are different places you can go to for HIV testing and a pharmacy is one of the options. Testing is not free at the pharmacy but you won’t have to wait too long to get tested because you set an appointment and it’s not usually too full. 

What steps will you need to take if you want to get tested at the pharmacy? Let’s find out!

Step 1 – Finding a pharmacy

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a pharmacy that is easy for you to get to and call the pharmacy to set an appointment. Some pharmacies allow you to book appointments online as well. You will be able to ask how much the test costs or see the prices online. The prices of HIV tests differ from pharmacy to pharmacy.

Step 2 – Pre-counselling 

When you get to the pharmacy, the healthcare provider will offer pre-counselling before the test. During the 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!

Pharmacies usually use rapid HIV tests which means that your result is 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. You will also pay for the HIV test before or after getting tested.

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.

Vodacom: *140*0833231023#

MTN: *121*0833231023#

Cell C: *111*0833231023#

Telkom: *140*0833231023#

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.

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