Testing for HIV
Knowing your HIV status is the best way to live a long, healthy life and prevent the spread of HIV. The most common result of HIV testing is peace of mind – so don’t be afraid to get tested and be in control of your health.
Who Should Get Tested?
If you’re sexually active, you should get tested for HIV (and other STIs). If you inject drugs, testing for HIV is also important.
You’ll only know your HIV status if you have a test.
Approximately 20% of people living with HIV haven’t been tested and don’t know their status. Some people recently exposed to HIV may experience flu-like symptoms, others will have no symptoms at all.
After any initial symptoms disappear, HIV might not cause further symptoms for many years. During this time you can pass the virus on to others without knowing. Whilst you may look and feel healthy, the untreated virus could be doing harm to your body
It is important to remember that you cannot assume someone’s HIV status or know for sure if a person is HIV positive based on the way they look or whether or not they ask to use a condom. This is why it’s important to get tested regularly and know your HIV status.
How to Test
HIV Blood Test: You can have a confidential blood test through your doctor or local sexual health clinic. Results are usually available in about a week.
HIV Rapid Test: A free rapid HIV test is now available from many locations across Queensland. It requires a drop of blood from your fingertip and you’ll get results in 20 minutes.
The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can be sure of your HIV status and be in control of your health.
The ‘window period’
Even though testing is very accurate and designed to detect HIV early, it can take up to 3 months for HIV to be detected by a test – this is called the ‘window period’.
Remember that if you think you’ve been recently exposed to HIV, accessing PEP emergency treatment within 72 hours of your potential exposure may prevent infection.
How often should you test?
If you’re sexually active, you should test regularly for HIV (and other STIs).
Testing every 3 months is recommended for sexually active men who have sex with men or if you inject.
You can have overlapping window periods, so regular testing is encouraged.
What Does A Negative Test Mean?
It depends on your window period – remember it can take up to 3 months before HIV can be detected by a test.
A negative HIV test result during the window period means that HIV hasn’t been detected in your blood at this time, but you should test again after your window period.
A negative HIV test after your window period, means you don’t have HIV.
A positive test result means HIV has been detected in your blood. It does NOT mean you have AIDS.
Coming to terms with a positive result isn’t always easy, but living with and coping with HIV does get better with time.
Remember that if you test positive, you’re not alone and there’s a lot of support available from health care professionals and peer support groups.
With early treatment, you can expect to live a long, healthy life.
Find where to get tested or
access PEP Emergency Treatment
You can find the HIV testing or treatment service nearest you using this simple locator tool.
In addition to the locations listed, you can also get a HIV test from your local GP.
You can find out more about testing from the HIV Foundation Queensland website.