What Happens After Testing?

What Happens After Testing?

Getting yourself to have an HIV test is often the hardest step to take, but is usually not as bad as you imagine. We look at some of the major questions that people ask about what happens after the HIV test.


How do I get my results?

Before your test, the tester should explain how you will get your test results. Depending on the type of test you take, you will have to wait either a few minutes for your results (rapid test), or anywhere between a couple of days and a couple of weeks (laboratory test).

If your result is negative, the health centre will contact you to let you know that you are negative. All positive and ‘reactive’ results will have to be reconfirmed, so you will be asked to come back for further testing.


What does a negative result mean?

If your HIV test result comes back as negative, this means that you do not have HIV. This result will only continue to be negative, as long as you haven't put yourself at risk since you had your last test. Remember to always wear a condom.

Be aware that testing negative for HIV doesn’t mean that your partner(s) are HIV-negative. HIV tests only apply to the person who took the test. If any of your previous or current partner(s) are worried about HIV, encourage them to get a test.


What does a ‘reactive’ test result mean?

A reactive test result is a possible positive result that needs to be confirmed with extra laboratory testing, before a final HIV-positive result can be given. To do this, the healthcare worker will talk you through everything, including any worries that you may have.

You will need to give another blood sample, which will then be sent to the lab for testing. Your diagnosis won't be given until after this extra test. At this stage, it's very important to follow the advice of the healthcare professional.


What does a positive test result mean?

If you received an HIV-positive result, the healthcare worker will talk to you about what this means and what will happen next. For most people, receiving a positive diagnosis can be a shocking and emotional experience – this is completely normal. The healthcare worker is there to support you and to answer any questions that you have on the day.

The next step is for them to take another sample of your blood. This will be sent off to the lab for further testing. If these test results come back again as HIV-positive, then you are HIV-positive.

Treatment means that HIV is now a manageable illness. Your healthcare provider can link you to support and treatment services, or any other health services that you need. Any questions that you have you can ask them – this is their job. You will most likely be asked to schedule another appointment with them in the very near future. It’s very important to keep appointments and use the support offered to you. You may also be offered screening tests for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.

Find out what questions to ask and what support is available to help you cope with the results on our ‘Newly diagnosed’ page.