An HIV reveals if HIV is present in your body. The test most used is a test that detects anti-bodies produced by your immune system in response to HIV. It is much easier and cheaper to find the anti-bodies than what it is to find itself.
Before you take your HIV test you must give your informed consent. Pre-test counselling should always be available. You should be provided with all relevant pre-test information and you should have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. It will be best if you can have one-on-one time with a trained counsellor.
Confidentiality of testing
Results of HIV tests must be kept absolutely confidential. In a hospital setting your HIV status is filed with your medical records. Unless you provide written permission, your status has to be kept 100% confidential.
Sometimes a person is urged by the doctor or health carer to be tested. This often happens when a person becomes ill. A doctor will need to consider your status so that he can prescribe the correct medication for you.
You may choose to be tested anonymously in which you do not give your name so that there is no link between your HIV status and your name. If you prefer to be tested anonymously, you will be given a code or a number. When your results are ready you will get them by giving the code or number you received.
Where to get tested
Your local clinic, a private doctor, your local health department, any hospital, at family planning clinics or at special sites that are set up for HIV testing. Make sure that counselling is provided. There are also communities that have home-based counselling and testing which may include couples counselling and safe post-test disclosure of the results.
It is good to know your HIV status. If you are HIV positive, you can go for counselling and check-ups and be advised about the best time to initiate your ARV treatment. More and more people with HIV are living full and healthy lives because they take care of themselves and keep to their treatments exactly as prescribed by the doctor.