Testing

Before you decide to take the test, ask yourself these questions that may be useful:

How high is the probability that I am infected, have i ever:
a) had even one sexual intercourse without condom?
b) had sex with large number of sexual partners or with a person who has had a large number of partners?
c) had sex while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?
d) had sex with an intravenous drug user?
e) exchanged needles or tools for drugs usage or preparation?

If any of the answers to these questions is YES, there already are reasons to take the test.

But, before you reach the decision about testing to HIV, you should think about:
• Will you be able to accept the result, whichever it is?
• Will your life change entirely if it turns out that you had been infected?
• Is there anybody whom you can talk to about testing and its results?
• When you get the result, regardless to what it is, will you be able to change your attitude towards safer behaviour?

If you still worry, think about it or have doubts, visit your general practitioner, school doctor, epidemiologist, dermatologist or gynaecologist. They will advise you and suggest that you take the HIV antibodies (specific proteins produced as a body's response to HIV) test in the nearest institution where it can be done. In such an institution you may go without any referrals

We recommend that you talk to a person from HIV/AIDS counselling before and after taking the test.

At the end of this article, you may find their contacts.

WHEN SHOULD HIV TEST BE TAKEN IN ORDER TO BE SURE ABOUT THE ACCURACY OF THE RESULTS?

Antibodies which test detects are not created within hour or two from the infection in the amount that can be discovered by the test. They usually need 6 to 8 weeks from infecting for high enough quantity of antibodies to appear and this period is called "window period".

During this period, the results may appear as negative despite the presence of the infection (falsely negative result), so it is important that 2-3 months pass from the potential infection for results to be accurate.

Test should be taken again after 6 months' time. 

IS THE TESTING PROCEDURE CONFIDENTIAL?

Three most important rules which mustn't be violated in the process of testing are: voluntarism, confidentiality and anonymity.

Voluntarism means that the decision about testing is entirely yours and without your consent the test mustn't be taken.

Confidentiality means close, confidential and honest conversation between you and counsellor, which aims to overcoming freight and stress, and then reaching good personal decision about testing on HIV. It also means that, whatever you say to your counsellor will never reach anybody else.

Anonymity means that you don't have to say your name if you don't want to and that you don't need any id to take the test.

During counselling, you may openly discuss everything, ask questions, talk about your dilemmas, worries and concerns. 

WHICH TESTS ARE THE MOST WIDELY USED?

In most of the cases, it's basic ELISA test used to discover specific antibodies in blood, in case of HIV infection presence. Other tests can be used as well, such is Western Blot which detects viral proteins.

There are tests which show the very structure of the virus (e.g. PCR) even 10 or 15 days after exposure, but this kind is not used for routine screening.

It is important to know that, so called, quick tests available in pharmacies are not to be used at home and should never be used for self-testing because they are never precise and because everyone needs support in the moment of finding out the result.

HOW ARE TEST RESULTS BEING TOLD?

The results are always told in person, never over a phone or another person.

In further counselling, you may choose a person to include as your support.

WHAT KIND OF A RESULT CAN I GET?

The result can either be:
• Reactive (or positive, i.e. seropositive)
• Unreactive (or negative i.e.seronegative)

Positive result means that the organism has produced antibodies on HIV and that they are then discovered in blood and that the infection occurred.

Positive result should always be verified using other test type (Western Blot test).

Negative result signifies that the HIV antibodies haven't been found in blood.

Or, more precisely, it means that, if all the criteria in terms of the time that needs to pass since the latest infection exposure occurred (window period) has passed before taking the test, that shows the infection's absence in the body.

REGARDLESS TO TEST RESULT, REMEMBER: HIV TESTING IS NOT PREVENTION

In both of the situations, it is very important to have safe sex (sex with condom) with your partners, and if you use needles and syringes for drug injection, they mustn't be exchanged.

Change your behaviour for your own safety.

For more information:

Youth of JAZAS
AIDS info line 011/324 82 35 every day 9-17h

Municipal institute for public health Belgrade
54a Despota Stefana street, 4th floor, room 72
Tel: 011/323 00 38 working days 9-17h

institute for students' health protection Belgrade
Centre for prevention of AIDS and STIs
57 Krunska street (entrance from 28 Braće Nedić street)
Tel: 011/243 21 92 working days 9-17h