How do I get tested?

There are several types of HIV tests. The most common is the HIV antibody test which looks for special fighting cells called antibodies that appear in your blood, urine, and oral fluid when you have been infected with HIV. When you get tested for HIV, you will usually give a sample of your blood or a swab of fluids from your mouth.

Many testing locations use a rapid HIV antibody test. The rapid test gives very accurate results in about 20 minutes. It is important to remember it can take up to three months after the last possible exposure to HIV before a person has enough antibodies in their system to test positive if they are positive. Also, HIV is most infectious in the earliest weeks after HIV infection, and because HIV antibody tests cannot definitely confirm infection earlier than three months, individuals should avoid unprotected sex or sharing needles.

The health information from your test is confidential (private). Without your written permission, only certain people, such as your health care provider or public health care provider may see the results.

Many hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, public health departments and community based organizations offer HIV testing free of charge or at a reduced cost. Please visit the test sites page to find a test site near you.