Importance of Testing
We have the power to both prevent and treat HIV. Half of people living with HIV had acquired the virus three or more years before their diagnosis. Earlier diagnosis leads to more successful treatment, so getting tested and learning your HIV status is crucial to your health. There’s also a public health impact of knowing your HIV status. Ending the HIV epidemic hinges on preventing new transmissions.
Knowing your HIV status is an important step in HIV prevention. Learn why, how, and where to get tested, know your status and learn what's next.
Everyone has an HIV status, and knowing your HIV status will help you plan for the future. If you test negative for HIV, you can take steps to help you remain HIV negative. If you test positive for HIV, you can seek medical treatment earlier, gain access to HIV care, treatment, and support, as well as reduce the risk of transmitting to others.
Short answer: yes. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. A general rule for those with risk factors is to get tested annually. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from getting an HIV test more often, perhaps every 3 to 6 months.HIV antibody testing detects antibodies in the blood and shows whether or not the virus is present in the body, and if the immune system has tried to fight it. Antibody tests are done confidentially and anonymously at any Florida health department testing site, private doctor’s office, or other third-party location. For a list of Florida testing sites in your area, use the interactive map above.
Confidential testing and anonymous testing are available to anyone who requests it. In Florida, opt-out HIV testing is available in health care settings as part of routine annual care, see: Section 381.004, Florida Statutes, Administrative Code Rule 64D-2. Testing is available at health departments, doctor’s offices, community-based organizations, and other private and non-profit clinics. Health departments offer testing at a minimal charge, but no fee is charged for those who cannot afford it. For an HIV testing site near you, use the interactive map above.
Use the interactive map above to find the HIV testing center nearest you, or contact the Florida HIV/AIDS Hotline.
Couples HIV Counseling and Testing (CHCT) is an approach to HIV testing where two or more persons who are in or are planning to be in a sexual relationship learn their HIV status together. Couples who choose CHCT receive prevention counseling, learn their HIV status and the status of their partner, and are linked to follow-up services together. Here is a list of HIV test sites that currently offer CHCT.
Florida law requires all pregnant women to be tested for STDs, including HIV, at their initial prenatal care visit and again at 28-32 weeks, unless they refuse. Women who appear at delivery with no record of an HIV test during pregnancy should be tested. If a woman declines HIV testing, the provider will have her sign a refusal form. It is very important that you are tested for HIV during your pregnancy. If you are pregnant and you test positive for HIV you can take actions to prevent your baby from acquiring HIV.
Test results are kept private in two different ways: confidential and anonymous. Confidential testing means that the person’s name and test results are kept in their private medical file. Anonymous testing means a person is given a number when being tested, and the person can only be identified by that number. No name is recorded.
While the initial sample collection for an HIV test usually only takes a few seconds, how long it takes to get results depends on the type of test. This is because not all HIV tests look for the same thing within the sample provided.
Conventional HIV tests look for HIV antibodies in your blood or oral fluid. A laboratory performs the test, and it can take a week or two to get results.
A rapid test can detect HIV antibodies in blood from a finger stick, whole blood, plasma or oral fluid. Rapid antibody screening tests provide results in 30 minutes or less.
You can anonymously determine your HIV status using an in-home oral swab collection test kit. These tests provide results in 20 minutes. Request your free in-home HIV test.
It’s important to keep in mind that the type of HIV test you take and where and when you take it can affect how the results should be interpreted. No test can detect HIV immediately after an exposure, therefore a person should consider a follow up test, usually 90 days after exposure. Learn more about HIV tests and how they work.