HIV testing and counseling

To get tested or not?

Before you decide to get tested, ask yourself a few questions that can help:
• What is the probability that I am infected:
• a) I had least one sexual intercourse without a condom?
• b) I had sex with many partners or with someone who has had sex with many partners?
• c) I had sex under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs?
• d) I had sex with someone who injects drugs?
• e) I shared needles or equipment for injecting drug use?

If your answer to any of these questions is YES, there is a reason for testing. But before you make a final decision about testing,you should consider the following:
• • Will you be able to accept the test result, whatever it is?
• • Will your life change completely if you have an infection?
• • Is there anyone (and who) that you could talk about testing and test result?
• • When you get a result regardless of what is, will you be able to change your behavior to safe behavior?

IF YOU STILL CARE, THINK, DOUBT

Visit your GP, school doctor, epidemiologist, dermatologist, or gynecologist. He/she will advise you and refer to the closest facility that tests for antibodies (specific proteins that are produced as a response to HIV infection) for HIV.

In institutions where the tests are done you can go directly without a referral, except in this case you will probably pay for testing.
We encourage you to before (and after) testing, have a personal talk with someone from the Counseling Center for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS, or to call them by phone.

At the end of this article you can find the contacts of some institutions that are provides counseling and / or HIV testing.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DO THE HIV TEST IN ORDER TO BE COMPLETELY SURE IN THE ACCURACY OF THE RESULTS?

The antibodies in blood required for a test for antibodies does not appear the hour, day or two after infection in the quantity needed for test to detect them. Usually they need six to eight weeks and this period, from the time when infection occurred to the appearance of sufficient quantities of specific anititela, is called the 'window period'.

During this period, the test result may be negative even when the infection is present (false negative), which is why needs to pass two or three months for the majority of tests that can detect antibodies for HIV (the last occasion when the infection may have occurred).

The test should be repeated after six months!

IS THE TEST PROCEDURE CONFIDENTIAL?

The three most important rules, which must not impair the process of counseling and testing, are: voluntariness, confidentiality and anonymity.
• Voluntary means that you made the decision to get tested and that test must be done with your consent.
• Confidentiality involves an intimate, confidential and honest conversation between you and the counselor, which aims to overcome the fear and stress, and then making the proper personal decisions regarding testing for HIV.

Confidentiality means that everything you say as the client remains between you and the counselor and will never get to the third party.
• Anonymity means that you do not need to present your full name, if you do not wanr, and you do not need any official medical or other documentation to get tested.
• During the consultation you can talk openly about everything, ask questions, talk about your dilemmas and worries.

HOW TO DO TEST?

The most common method is by taking a small sample of blood from a vein in the arm (from elbow crease), which is then sent to the required analysis.

WHAT TESTS ARE FREQUENTLY USED?

The most commonly used basic ELISA test to detect specific antibodies in the blood, if there is HIV infection. You can use other tests such as Western Blot, which requires viral proteins.

There are tests that reveal the structure of viruses (eg, PCR) as early as after 10 to 15 days when infection occurred, but such tests are not often used for routine testing.

It is important to know that so-called rapid tests that can be bought in pharmacies are not for residential use and they should not be used for self-testing because they are not sufficiently precise and because each person needs support when determining the result.

WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO INFORM A PERSON ABOUT THE TEST RESULT?

The test result is always given in person, never by phone or to another person.

Futher consultation, with your permission, may involve a person of your choice as your support.

WHAT CAN BE A RESULT OF THE TEST?

The test result can be:
• Reactive (or positive)
• Unreactive (or negative)

A positive result means that the body produces antibodies to HIV, and that they can be found in the blood. It means that the infection is present.

A positive result must always be checked again by another type of test (Western Blot test).

A negative result means that HIV antibodies are not found in the blood.

More precisely: It means that, if they meet all criteria related to the time that must elapse since the last occasion when the infection may have occurred ('window period'), HIV infection does not exist.

REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME OF TEST, PLEASE NOTE: TESTING IS NOT A PREVENTION FOR HIV

In both cases it is very important to practice safe sex (sex with a condom) with all partners, and if you use needles or syringes to inject drugs, they should not be shared with others.

As of today, change your behavior for your own safety and safety of people you love.
For more information:

City Institute of Public Health Belgrade
Despot Stefan 54a Street, Fourth Floor, Room 72
Phone: +381 11 323 00 38 weekdays from 9 am to 17 pm

Zavod za zaštitu zdravlja studenata, Belgrade
Center for the Prevention of AIDS and sexually transmitted infections
Krunska Street 57 (entrance from the street Brace Nedic 28)
Phone: +381 11 243 21 92 weekdays from 9 am to 17 pm