Benefits of Knowing Your HIV Status
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 passing the virus to others.
Should I Be Tested for HIV?
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.
Availability of Testing
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.
Where Can I Get an HIV Test?
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
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.
I Am Pregnant - Should I Be Tested For HIV?
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 becoming infected with HIV.
Are My HIV Test Results Confidential?
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.
How Do HIV Tests Work?
Most HIV tests currently performed in the United States are antibody tests. This testing procedure isolates the antibody to HIV and not the virus itself. Specimens of human serum (blood), plasma, dried blood spots, and mucosal transudate from the mouth can be used to test for HIV antibodies.
A type of test that is becoming more commonly used is a fourth-generation HIV test. These types of tests are only available for testing blood and detect both HIV antibodies and the virus itself (p24 antigen). Fourth-generation tests can detect recent HIV infection earlier than tests that only search for antibodies. Remember, the earlier you know your HIV status, the sooner you can make important decisions about your health.
A finger-stick collection test kit has been developed for home use and is intended for use by persons who wish to anonymously determine their HIV status at home. The manufacturing company uses an authorized laboratory to test the blood specimen for the presence of HIV antibodies. Individuals are required to phone a designated number and input their unique identification number to receive their results.
The oral collection device draws antibodies out of the cheek and gum in oral mucosal transudate. This device is not intended to collect saliva for testing. It is highly accurate, provided sufficient time has passed for antibodies to form and the test is performed correctly.
A rapid test for detecting antibodies to HIV is a screening test that produces very quick results, usually in a matter of minutes. It can detect HIV antibodies through a small droplet of blood from a finger stick, or through venipuncture whole blood, plasma, or oral fluid samples. Results are provided in less than an hour.