What is an AIDS test?
Testing you for AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome involves a test for HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a simple blood test that detects the presence or absence of HIV antibodies in your blood i.e. antibodies produced by the immune system to destroy the virus. It takes three to six months for these antibodies to appear in the blood after an exposure to HIV. If you test during this silent period and the result is negative, you will be tested again later to be absolutely certain that you are not infected.
Before you take the test, a nurse or a counselor will talk to you in private. You will be asked why you want to test, when and how you think have you been exposed to HIV and if you have any questions about the test. This interview is also a prior opportunity to learn about HIV and about the significance of the results, especially if they are positive. Remember that you are free to get tested or not and must give your written consent prior to the test.
The test involves taking a sample of blood from your arm and sending it to a laboratory. In the event of no HIV antibodies being detected, your test is “negative” which means that you are not infected with HIV. However this does not mean that you are immune against all new HIV infections.
In case of antibodies being detected, a second test is performed on the same sample to confirm the result. Testing “positive” conveys that you have tested positive for HIV and therefore you are now living with HIV. However this does not mean that you have AIDS. If the result of the second test is “undetermined”, you must undergo another test and give another blood sample, normally a month later. Indeterminate results are rare.
If the result of your second test is positive, you may be advised to inform your sexual partners or begin drug use. You should also find out as soon as possible on how to obtain treatment and support.
When to get tested?
You should think about doing an AIDS test if you or your partner ever:
Had sexual relations with someone unknown, especially vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom made of latex or polyurethane (or other protective device).
Tested positive for other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections eg. Chlamydia, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis C etc.
Have shared syringes for drugs, including steroids.
Have tattoos or piercings or have undergone acupuncture treatments with equipment that was not sterilized.
Why should you take a test?
It is important to test for HIV for several reasons, including:
If the result is negative, your stress level may be reduced because you know your HIV status and you learn more about how to reduce the risk of infection. If the result is positive, you can start an early treatment to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others.
How to test?
AIDS test can be done through doctors, clinics and hospitals.
Some places offer specialized anonymous testing for HIV which means that no one other than you will see the results.
How to get anonymous or confidential AIDS test done?
It is important to note that HIV testing is not automatically anonymous and to undergo an HIV test anonymously, you will have to find a place that offers this service. Patients are identified only by a code or name assigned by the clinic staff. Although an anonymous testing does not reveal your identity, in some provinces, the test results are reported to public health authorities.
It is highly recommended that an AIDS test be carried out in case of a doubt. It is extremely important to be sure about the presence of this debilitating disease right from its inception in the body.