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The HIV Antibody Test
What Is The HIV Antibody Test?
The HIV antibody test is a blood test that tells whether or not you have been infected by HIV (the Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV is the virus that leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Antibodies are complex chemicals produced by your immune system in response to infections. Your immune system will generally produce HIV antibodies within 14 weeks after you were infected.
The HIV test checks your blood for these antibodies, not for the virus. This is because it is difficult at present for labs to test for the virus itself.
What Does The Test Tell You?
A POSITIVE result means you have been infected and can pass the virus on to others. It does NOT tell when you were infected, what condition your immune system is in, or whether or not you will get sick.
A NEGATIVE result means you have not been infected. But remember, it takes up to 14 weeks for your immune system to produce HIV antibodies. Therefore, you must wait 14 weeks after your last unsafe contact before getting tested, to make sure your negative result is really negative.
A repeat test may be advisable in 3 to 6 months in certain cases. A counselor can advise you whether this is necessary.
Who Should Get Tested?
Still Not Sure About Testing?
Some people are reluctant to test because they're concerned about confidentiality. If you get tested anonymously, you needn't worry about other people finding your results, or that you were even tested in the first place.
Others have not tested because they feel well and, therefore, think that they can't be infected. But keep in mind that it takes 5-10 years on average before symptoms of HIV appear, in some cases even longer. The test is the only way of knowing whether or not you are infected.
People also put off testing because they think they won't be able to deal with knowing they are HIV+. Testing positive can be a real crisis because it means facing uncertainty and making changes in life. Even so, many HIV+ people have found that with information and support, they can learn to cope with testing positive.
Making the decision to test, and starting to take action now is much easier to handle than finding out by getting sick.
Talk To A Nurse Or Doctor Before You Get Tested
A nurse or doctor can talk with you about how the virus is transmitted, whether you and your partners have been at risk, what the HIV antibody test tells you, and whether it's the right time for you to get tested. You may also want to discuss how you would react if you tested positive.
You should never be tested without giving your informed consent first.
Options For Testing
ANONYMOUS TESTING is a system that uses a number code on the lab slip and on your counseling file, NOT YOUR NAME. This means you are the only one who can identify your test result. Even if you test positive, your name can't be reported. And since your OHIP number is NOT needed for testing, the lab can't identify who you are.
Sites for Anonymous Testing:
is a system that uses a number code with your initials. It is not anonymous.
Many family physicians and the Grey Bruce Health Unit use this method. If
you would like to make an appointment for non-nominal testing at a
Sexual Health Clinic Location In Grey Bruce,
We work with the Grey Bruce community to protect and promote health