Having a HIV test can be difficult for people, depending on why you have decided to get tested.
Some people are expecting a positive test, others know they have been at risk; others still get tested just because they want to.
Whatever your reasons for testing you may be struggling to make the appointment and you may be finding it hard to talk about with your partner, family or friends. A common concern that people have is ‘meeting someone they know’ at the clinic.
Some of the things you can do to help relieve your concerns before you go for the test are:
Talking to someone
As there are a lot of myths and misinformation about HIV and how it is transmitted, you may not have been at risk. Talking about why you want to take the test with someone who knows about HIV, can help you to sort out fact from fiction and strengthen your resolve for knowledge about yourself. This might also give you the opportunity to explore your options about where to get tested.
How you prepare is up to you. Depending on whether you are getting a Rapid HIV test, or having a whole sexual health screen, preparation will be different. Make sure you know how long you will need and give yourself plenty of time; take the whole morning off work; arrange a babysitter for longer than you think you will need; whatever you have to do to make sure you have enough time so worries about other commitments will not be adding to your stress.
Having someone with you
Some people benefit from just having someone sitting next to them. The wait in the STI clinic or doctors surgery can sometimes be long and often it can feel embarrassing to be waiting for a HIV test.
The journey home after the test can be more difficult as the mind becomes active and the worst scenarios are considered. Having someone else with you for the journey home means you get the opportunity to talk about how you are feeling and will help you to not dwell on the test you have just taken.
You may choose to get tested at the same time as a friend or sexual partner so you can support each other. In most places, tests are only given to one person at a time, so you may not be able to sit in the room with each other, but you can arrive and leave together.
Having support whilst you are waiting for the results
With a Rapid HIV Test, you will get your result within the appointment. For a full STI screen it can take up to 2 weeks to receive your results; the wait can often be more difficult than hearing the results. This is when having someone in your life who knows you have taken a HIV test can really help.
You may experience all sorts of thoughts and feelings. Sleeplessness is common whilst waiting for results. Stress is also common and can impact on your day to day life.
If you need it, we can accompany you to have your test and receive your results. We can travel with you there and back as well as sitting with you in the waiting room. We will also provide support for you during the two weeks it may take to receive your results.
REMEMBER: The majority of people who take a HIV test receive a negative result. Just because you have taken a test it does not mean that you will be HIV positive.
Having someone to talk to whilst you are waiting for results means that you will also have support if you do receive a positive result.
We offer support and information before, during and after having a HIV test. This is regardless of whether you are expecting a positive or a negative result, and what result you receive.
Anyone can come into our project, phone our confidential helpline on 061 316661, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about the fact that they would like to get tested. We can tell you what the procedure is like and work with you to develop a support plan.