The HIV test
If a person’s body makes antibodies against HIV, they are HIV-positive. The virus is therefore present in the body. It takes three months before HIV can be detected. This is done through a blood test. The result of an HIV test is a matter for personal discussion. The doctor is bound by confidentiality. That means that he or she cannot tell someone else about the result of an HIV test.
Why have an HIV test?
If you are infected with HIV, it is important that a specialist monitors the progress of the infection so that you can start treatment promptly.
You can ensure that you do not transmit HIV to someone else
HIV and pregnancy
If you are HIV-positive and pregnant, medication can considerably reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to your baby. That is why all pregnant women in the Netherlands are tested for HIV (unless they object).
If you want more information, talk to your doctor or midwife.
When to have an HIV test?
An HIV test is only advisable three months after unprotected sex.
Antibodies against the HIV virus are only detectable after a longer period.
Because the antibodies are detectable in everyone after three months, this period is recommended.
Immediately after unprotected sex with a seropositive partner, you can start PEP treatment within a maximum of 72 hours.
How does the test work?
During an HIV test, the doctor or nurse takes a blood sample. This is tested for the presence of HIV antibodies in a laboratory. It usually takes about a week to ten days before the result is available.
With a rapid HIV test, the result is often available after an hour. A rapid test is not a standard procedure however. Many institutions are unable to perform a rapid test.
How a person will receive the result is agreed in advance. Communicating the result often takes place in conversation with the doctor or nurse. After a test result which shows HIV in the blood, a second test is always done in order to be able to say with 100% certainty that a person has HIV.
The conversation with the doctor or nurse can also involve discussion about how a person can avoid future risks to themselves and others. The doctor or nurse is bound by confidentiality. This means that they are not allowed to tell someone else about the results of a test. They can only do so if the person in question gives permission.
Testing for other STIs
Given the risk of transmitting HIV through sex, it is advisable to immediately test for other STIs since the risk of these is also present. Other STIs are more common than an HIV infection.
The test result
This is good news: no HIV antibodies have been found in the blood. If someone has run no risk in the three months before the test, he or she can assume that they do not have HIV.
This is bad news: the virus is in the blood. Perhaps the patient has noticed nothing. The doctor will continue to monitor their health and the development of the infection. This doctor is usually an HIV specialist in a hospital. He or she can advise and inform a person, about the treatment options for example.
You can call, e-mail or chat with the AIDS STI Infoline: 0900-204 2040; firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with you, the people on the Infoline can make a risk assessment and refer you to the right places for a test or treatment.