What Happens When You Get Tested For HIV?
HIV testing among young adults is at an all time low. According to a new report, less than one-quarter of sexually active high school students have been tested for HIV. But with testing for other STIs, like chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea on the rise, why is HIV testing so lacking? The main reason is because of the stigma associated with HIV testing.
If you’re sexually active, regular HIV tests are an important part of good sexual health. But we understand that whether you think you’re HIV-positive or not, getting tested is always a little nerve-racking. That’s why we’ve broken down exactly what you can expect when you’re tested for HIV at CIRCLE CARE Center.
When You First Walk In
You’ll be asked to fill out some paperwork regarding your ethnicity, sexual history, and drug use (if any). Once your paperwork has been filled out, you’ll be asked to wait in the lobby until a physician or counselor is ready for you. At CIRCLE CARE Center, we understand that waiting isn’t only an inconvenience, it can be stressful. That’s why we pride ourselves on short wait times — most patients wait less than 15 minutes.
The Pre-Test Counseling Session
After your intake forms are completed, you’ll be called into a private room for a pre-test counseling session. Your counselor will ask you several questions, mostly regarding your sexual history. A few commonly asked questions are:
- “What brings you here today?”
- “Do you think you’ve recently come in contact with HIV?”
- “Have you been sexually active since your potential contact with HIV?”
- “What methods of protection do you use during sexual activity?”
While it’s always your right to not answer any questions asked, it’s incredibly important that patients are as honest and upfront with their counselor so that they can receive the best treatment possible.
At CIRCLE CARE Center, all first-time patients will receive one-on-one counseling and be educated on the different ways HIV is transmitted, how you can protect yourself, the types of tests that will be conducted, and information regarding insurance coverage and government benefits.
Testing For HIV
At CIRCLE CARE Center, we offer rapid 20-minute HIV testing. Contrary to popular belief, an HIV test doesn’t test for the presence of HIV. Rather, a test will look for the presence of antibodies that your body makes in response to HIV. Just as the name implies, this test takes only 20 minutes, allowing patients to leave with their results.
If the Test is Negative
You should continue to get tested regularly and talk to a counselor about ways you can reduce your risk of becoming HIV-positive. If you’re at a high risk for HIV, talk to your physician about PrEP — a once-a-day pill that is up to 95 percent effective at preventing HIV.
If the Test is Positive
If your rapid test comes back positive at CIRCLE CARE Center, you’ll be asked to schedule a follow-up appointment for additional lab work. Your treatment options are also discussed at this time. To help patients cope with the emotional aspect of a positive test result, they’re encouraged to learn more about the mental health services we offer at CCC, as well as through our partners, Triangle Community Center and MFAP.
CIRCLE CARE Center (CCC) in Norwalk, CT provides comprehensive and state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS care and support. CCC providers are HIV/AIDS Treatment Specialists certified by the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM).