The only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You can't rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV don't have any symptoms at all for many years.

Similarly, you can't rely on symptoms to establish that a person has AIDS. The symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria.


HIV testing determines whether or not you are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus destroys the body's ability to fight off illness, and is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).


·         Immune system monitoring and early treatment can greatly improve your long term health.

·         Knowing you are positive may help you change behaviors that would put yourself and others at risk.

·         You will know whether or not you can infect others.

·         Women and their partners considering pregnancy can take advantage of treatments that potentially prevent transmission of HIV to the baby.

·         If you test negative, you may feel less anxious after testing.


·         Anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom. If you have another sexually transmitted disease, your chances of contracting HIV during sex are much higher.

·         Direct blood or mucous membrane contact with an infected person's blood.

·         From an infected mother to her child, during pregnancy, birth, or breast feeding.

·         Sharing needles or equipment for drug use.


Testing is recommended if:

·         You think you may have been exposed to the HIV. If you're not sure, take this

·         You are sexually active (3 or more sexual partners in the last 12 months)

·         You are uncertain about your sexual partner's risk behaviors.

·         You are a male who has had sex with another male.

·         Any of your male sexual partners has had sex with another male.

·         You have used street drugs by injection, especially when sharing needles and/or other equipment.

·         You have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

·         You are a health care worker with direct exposure to blood on the job.

·         You are pregnant. There are now treatments that can greatly reduce the risk that a pregnant woman who has HIV will give the virus to her baby.

·         You are a woman who wants to make sure you are not infected with HIV before getting pregnant.

·         Even if you have no risk factors for HIV infection, you may still want to get tested to ease your own mind. This also encourages everyone to be more responsible about HIV transmission.


An HIV test will not detect the presence of the HIV virus immediately after exposure. Statistics show that 96% (perhaps higher) of all infected individuals will test positive within 2 to 12 weeks. In some cases, this may take up to six months.

Think about this: if you got a negative test at six weeks, would you believe it?  Would it make you less anxious? If so, go for it. But to be certain, you will need to be tested again at six months.


·         Many people continue to engage in some degree of risky behavior, and choose to be tested for HIV periodically (every six months, every year, or every other year.)

·         Since the window period for developing a positive test result can be as long as six months, it would rarely make sense to be tested more often than this.

·         There are clear benefits to early medical attention for infection with the HIV virus. There is little agreement on how early this must be. But if you wait longer than two years, treatment of the disease may be less effective.

·         If you are beyond the six month window period from a possible HIV transmission event and were reported HIV negative by an accurate HIV test (and you are not subsequently put at risk for HIV), you can consider yourself HIV negative. There is no need to retest. However if it eases your anxiety, you may wish to take the test again periodically.


·         Anonymous testing means that absolutely no one has access to your test results since your name is never recorded at the test site. Confidential testing sometimes means identifying yourself in some manner to the test site, with their assurance that this information will remain private.

·         Anonymous test sites are highly recommended because:

·         The quality of the education and counseling that is provided is very good.

·         The testing is usually free or minimal fees.

·         The testing is reliable and automatically includes confirming tests.

·         It protects you from risks of discrimination or adverse impact, especially in applications for insurance.

·         Sometimes even taking an HIV test, regardless of the result, might cause an insurance application to be refused.


You can arrange for HIV testing at an established testing center, or at your doctor's office. Test results are usually available instantly. 


No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status. Your negative test result does not tell you about the HIV status of your partner(s). HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time there is an exposure.
No one's test result can be used to determine another person's HIV status.