288 HIV and AIDS
➤ Rapid HIV testing
is available in many
health centers and
hospitals at low or no
cost. You can usually
get test results the
When HIV enters the body, the body starts to make
antibodies right away to fight the virus. These antibodies usually
show in the blood 2 to 4 weeks later.
The HIV test looks for these antibodies in the blood. An HIV
test is the only way to know if a person has been infected with
HIV. It is not a test for AIDS.
A positive HIV test means that you are infected with the virus
and your body has made antibodies to HIV. Even if you feel
completely well, you can spread the virus to others.
A negative HIV test means 1 of 2 things:
• you are not infected with HIV, or
• you were recently infected but your body has not yet made
enough antibodies to HIV to test positive.
If you have tested negative for HIV but think you might
be infected, you should take the test again in about 6 weeks.
Sometimes a positive test also needs to be repeated. A health
worker can help you decide.
➤ The HIV test
should always be done:
• with your
• with counseling
before and after
• with privacy. No
one should know
the results except
you and those you
want to know.
➤ If possible, have
someone you trust go
with you to get your
HIV test results.
When should you have the HIV test?
It may be more important to change unsafe behavior than
to have an HIV test. But you and your partner may want to be
• you want to get married (or start a faithful sexual
relationship with one person) or have children.
• you are pregnant and worried that you may be positive.
• you, your partner, or your baby have signs of AIDS.
• you or your partner have been having unsafe sex.
The advantages of knowing the test results
If your test is negative, you can learn how to protect yourself so
that you stay negative and never get HIV.
If your test is positive, you can:
• prevent the spread of HIV to your partner or baby.
• get care and treatment early to prevent health problems.
• make changes in how you live so you can stay healthy longer.
• get support from other HIV-infected people in
• plan for yourself and your family’s future.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012