HIV Testing – What to Expect

  • Tell the receptionist you’re here for an HIV test- they will escort you to a room and a staff member will be with you shortly.
  • Your tester will explain the test and provide you with the knowledge needed to give informed, voluntary consent for the test. After offering to answer any questions you might have, they will begin the test.
  • They will start with a short questionnaire, collecting demographic information and performing a risk assessment. All test results and any personal information collected will be treated confidentially.
  • Next, they will collect the sample- LivWell’s tests use a fingerstick- similar to a blood sugar check- to gather a small amount of blood
  • The sample is then processed using the testing kit and your result will be ready within 1 minute.
  • The total time, including paperwork, should be around 15 minutes.

Test Results and Re-Testing Recommendations

  • Negative (non-reactive)

Antibody tests can take 90 days to detect an HIV infection after exposure, this is called the window period. To be sure about your status, it is best to get tested again in 3 months. After this point, if you have not had any possible exposure you would be considered negative. We recommend everyone get tested at least once a year. However, if you are engaging in activities that could lead you to be exposed, we recommend you get tested every 3 months.

Your tester will talk to you about ways to reduce your risk, such as condoms/lube and PrEP.

A negative result does not necessarily mean that your sex partners or needle-sharing partners are also negative, they should be encouraged to test as well.

  • Positive (reactive)

If your initial test is reactive, your tester will perform a second test to confirm your result. If the second test is positive, you are positive for HIV. In this case, we are mandated by state law to send your name/contact information and test results to your local health department. This reporting is only to protect the health of others- your test results and methods of transmission discussed will not be reported to any members of law enforcement.

The health department will contact you for Partner Services; getting information about your sexual and needle-sharing partners to inform them of their risk of exposure so they can be tested.

This info will also be shared with our internal Linkage to Care Navigator to get you connected to medical care and other supportive services through LivWell or the HIV service provider closest to you.

  • Discordant / False Positives

If the second test is negative, this is considered discordant. Your tester will complete a third test to confirm the result. This is uncommon, but can indicate very early infection- the CDC recommends testing again in two weeks and taking precautions against exposure/transmission during this time