Taking the test. #FightStigma

13 Oct

Today, there are several options available to those seeking HIV/STI testing. HIV tests in the United States can be performed using an oral swab and results can be obtained in 20 minutes! For those who are comfortable with blood, there is even a finger prick option that will yield results in 3-5 minutes (sometimes less time!).

Back in March, I shot a video through the Kentucky Department of Public Health (via the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) with a colleague of mine simulating an HIV testing and counseling session. For anyone who is interested in knowing how a rapid HIV testing session works, I’ve attached the video below. 

Are you interested in getting tested for HIV? I’ve included below a few items to consider before scheduling your appointment.

1. Find a testing location: Use the AIDS.gov application for locating free HIV testing sites in your area.

While unwarranted, there is a very real social stigma surrounding HIV and HIV testing.  Oftentimes, stigma surrounding sexual health serves as a deterrent for many seeking testing. This stigma often leads many to seek HIV testing/treatment in cities where they are not known by the local community, in order to avoid recognition from a family member or colleague.  #FightStigma

2. Determine the type of test you’d like to take: Ask someone from the testing site what types of tests that are available. For those seeking free, rapid HIV testing who prefer using an oral swab, ask for the Oraquick Rapid HIV test.

Clearview Advance HIV test is another rapid test available that uses a drop of blood from a finger prick.

3. Be aware of the 3-month window period: Most rapid HIV tests are antibody tests. Antibodies are produced by your body in response to the presence of a foreign pathogen. If you are infected with HIV, it can take anywhere from 1-3 months for HIV antibodies to develop in your system. Therefore, any risk for HIV that may have occured up to three months prior to your test date may not be detected on your HIV test. If you are schedule a test within your three-month window period (it’s been less than three months since you believed you were potentially exposed to HIV), it is recommended that you schedule a follow-up appointment with your provide to confirm your test results. If you are in the “window period”, you should attempt to reduce your risk for HIV as much as possible, including engaging in sex with a protective barrier, refraining from sharing any type of needles, or abstaining from sexual activity altogether. Each time you engage in a new behavior that places you at risk for infection, you re-set your “window period” start date.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions: rachel.safeek@duke.edu.


–Rachel Safeek

Tweet at me @RachSafeek 


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