1993 (comatonse.com). Most of this information was written in committee with others, and Terre is not the sole author. Please note that this information was compiled during the late '80s and early '90s, and some of it may be out of date (statistics, etc.). However, most information is general enough that it is still relevant. In particular, the "HIV/AIDS Lexicon" remains as important as ever. The old "HIV/AIDS Resources" section has been deleted since HIV and AIDS related organizations and referral agencies are easily located through current internet search engines.
introduction | transmission | prevention | testing | lexicon
TEST ANONYMOUSLY IF POSSIBLE!
About the HIV Antibody Test
To know whether one is infected with HIV or not, one has to take the HIV antibody test. The antibody test is not a test for AIDS [Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome], but a test for the presence of HIV antibodies. It does not tell if a person has AIDS because AIDS refers to a syndrome of effects one can experience as a result of a low immunity tolerance, which is caused by HIV. The presence of antibodies indicates HIV infection.
In most people, antibodies to HIV develop within three weeks to three months after infection, although some individuals may take much longer to seroconvert (develop antibodies). Health care professionals usually recommend that risk behavior within the past six months should be taken into account when testing, because transmissions during that time period may not be reflected in the results of an antibody test.
How Is The Test Done?
A small amount of blood is drawn from a person's arm, taken to a lab, and tested. The time it takes to get results back varies in different areas. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Two different antibody tests are being used by the NYC Department of Health [DOH] Laboratory:
A blood specimen is first tested twice using ELIZA. If both of the test results are non-reactive, a Western Blot is generally not performed, and the result is negative. If both ELIZAs are reactive and the Western Blot is reactive, the result is positive.
Why Should Someone Take the Test?
Health Care Issues Are Important, Knowing One's Health Status Can Be Empowering
Deciding Whether To Take The Test Or Not
The primary reason for taking the HIV antibody test is to start early intervention. Current medical research has shown that early detection and intervention of HIV infection can delay the onset of HIV illnesses, but there are some issues to be taken into consideration before believing in such findings.
If Decided to Take the Test, What Are the Issues?
Pre- And Post-Test Counseling
The pre-test counseling process should encourage self-assessment of risk and attempt to determine whether the individual really needs to be tested to accomplish prevention or medical goals.
Effective counseling must be done in non-judgmental, respectful, culturally sensitive, and language specific manners.All information regarding eligibility for public and private health benefits and eligibility for social services and public entitlement programs must be made available to the individual taking the test during the post-test counseling.
Please be sure that you feel that you have taken into account all of these issues when considering testing. It is commonly suggested that a person take an anonymous test which is free (you will receive a number to identify test results; therefore, you do not have to give your name, address, or phone number).
Confidential testing, which requires disclosure of a tester's personal information to the testing facility, is commonly provided by medical practitioners' offices and usually costs around $50.00. Confidential testing is typically not recommended because a client's HIV status can easily be leaked out to government agencies, as well as health insurance companies.