HIV testing is an important, personal choice. You can get tested at a doctor’s office, a public health clinic, a family planning clinic, or an HIV testing center.
However, the CAMC Ryan White Program provides free, confidential HIV oral rapid test kits, which provides results in 20 minutes. Patients can pick up these kits at our Outpatient Care Clinic and perform the test in the comfort of their own home.
What to Expect With HIV Testing
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It lives in blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. To get HIV, one of these infected fluids has to get inside your body.
People with HIV can look and feel healthy for a long time. In fact, many “healthy looking” people have HIV and don’t know it. That’s why it’s important to know your HIV status and get tested regularly.
HIV tests can be done in multiple ways:
- Taking a blood sample from your arm
- Using a cotton swab to rub some cells from the inside of your mouth
- Taking a urine sample
A negative test result means either you don’t have HIV, or you have HIV but it’s too soon for the test to show it. A negative test does not mean you can’t get HIV in the future.
A positive test result means you have HIV. If your test is positive, two things are very important:
- See a health care provider right away. Early treatment can help you stay healthy longer.
- Find support. Friends, family and/or an AIDS/HIV support group will help you live healthy with HIV.
Who Should Get Tested?
It’s important for anyone to know their HIV status. However, the following are important reasons to consider for getting tested:
- You are worried that you may have HIV
- You are thinking about having sex with a new partner and you want to be sure that neither of you has HIV
- You are pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, and you want to know if the baby has a chance of getting HIV
- You are thinking about joining a group that requires testing, such as the Job Corps or military
If you can answer YES to either of these questions, you are at risk for HIV and may want to be tested:
- Have I ever had sex without using a latex condom?
- Have I ever shared needles to inject drugs, vitamins or steroids, for body piercing or tattooing?