HIV Antibody Testing
As of September 1, 2010 New York State requires that an HIV antibody test be offered at least once to all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 in certain health care settings, including college health centers. Every student who comes to the SHC will be offered an HIV antibody test, at least once, regardless of the reason for the visit. The testing is completely voluntary.
What is an HIV test?
- It is a blood test to check for antibodies to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
- These antibodies are produced by the immune system after infection with the HIV virus.
- It is not a test for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), the disease caused by the HIV virus.
- It can take years after HIV infection for a person to develop symptoms of AIDS. A person with HIV can look and feel completely well.
- It takes about 3 months to develop enough HIV antibody to be detected by the test.
- If you think you may have been exposed more recently, the clinician may select a different test or you may be asked to return for repeat HIV antibody testing. You should definitely practice safer sex. In the early stages or “window period” between infection and development of antibody, HIV infection is extremely contagious.
Should I get tested?
There are many reasons to get tested:
- You may have been exposed to HIV without knowing it. If you have ever: had sex without using a condom or barrier, shared needles or works to shoot, snort or smoke drugs or shared needles for piercing or tattooing—get tested.
- If you have HIV, you can get treatment.
- If you know you have HIV, you can take precautions to avoid infecting others.
- If you do not have HIV, you can take precautions to prevent getting HIV.
- Many people with HIV show no symptoms. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV.
Does the SHC offer the HIV antibody test?
The SHC offers two types of confidential testing for HIV antibody: an in-office rapid blood test (finger prick) with results in ten minutes, or a blood sample sent to an outside commercial lab. If you opt for testing at the SHC you will:
- Be asked to make an appointment
- Be interviewed about possible risk factors for HIV such as: sexual behaviors, drug use, tattoos, blood transfusions before 1985 or other possible blood exposures.
- Be counseled about test options, test procedures, the meaning of the test results and safer sex practices.
What does HIV antibody testing cost?
- The cost of the testing is currently $20 (cash, check, TigerBucks, Visa, MasterCard) for the rapid test in the SHC and $20 (self-pay cost) if the sample is sent to the outside lab.
- Many insurance companies now cover the cost of screening testing for HIV and other STDs. Contact your insurance company. If it covers screening testing, you can opt to have the sample sent to the outside lab which will submit a bill to your insurance company.
Where can I go to get free testing?
Monroe County Health Department STD Clinic
Bullshead Plaza, 855 W. Main St. Rochester, NY 14611
Walk in HIV and STD testing. M&Th 9:30-3:30, T&W 8:30-3:30, F 8:30-11:30
259 Monroe Ave. (at Alexander) Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 545-7200, Toll free (800) 266-9292
Walk in HIV testing M-F 9:00 -5:00 (until 7 pm on T)
STD testing for men who have sex with men and high risk women T 9:00-7:00 ONLY
New York State Dept. of Health
(585) 423-8081, Toll free (800) 962-5063
Anonymous testing by appointment at locations in Rochester
Who Sees the Test Results?
- The SHC offers "confidential" testing.
- The results are recorded in your private medical record and cannot be shared with anyone without your written permission.
- Some agencies offer free testing that is confidential.
- The New York State Dept. of Health also offers “anonymous” testing, which means you will not be asked for your name.
Protect Yourself and Your Partners
- AIDS is a preventable disease.
- Protect yourself and your sex partners by using latex (or polyurethane if you are allergic to latex) male or female condoms or dental dams (latex barriers used with oral sex) every time you have sex (oral, vaginal or anal). Use only water based lubricants.
- Practice "sober" sex. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and lead to risky behaviors.
- Many sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, cause no obvious symptoms.
- A person can be infected and not know it.
- Get tested, encourage your partner to be tested and take precautions to prevent infection.