HIV is detected through a blood test. This test detects the antibodies that are produced by the body when an HIV infection occurs. It can take up to 12 weeks (3 months) for these antibodies to appear. This is called a ‘window period’, which means that an HIV antibody test could be negative even if a person is HIV-positive. Because of this window period, it is best practice to get an HIV test every 3 months if you are at risk of HIV, or 3 months after a potential exposure to HIV. Your medical provider or local sexual health clinic can advise you on how frequently you should get tested based on your level of risk.
In the ACT, HIV tests can be conducted by:
- Blood test – through all STI clinics and GPs
- HIV Self-Testing Kit – available at Meridian
A blood test involves blood being taken from a vein in your arm with a needle. The blood is sent to a laboratory for testing. Test results can be available as soon as 24 hours or up to a week, depending on the site of your test. Your clinician will discuss how you would like to get your results: face to face, over the phone or via SMS.
An HIV Self-Test Kit is an HIV test that you can perform in your own home or wherever you feel comfortable. It involves a finger prick blood test with a result provided in 15 minutes after taking the test. You can purchase an HIV Self-Test Kit at the Meridian office. If you receive a positive result, it will need to be confirmed by further testing with a doctor. The Care Card inside the kit box has more information about follow-up testing, or you can call the Meridian office on (02) 6257 2855 during business hours.
You can get an HIV Test at STRIP Clinic, a monthly sexual health clinic hosted at Meridian, or at other testing service locations. We recommend getting tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the same time. Remember, you cannot be tested for HIV without your permission.