When thinking about having a HIV there are a few things you need to consider:
- Have I been at risk?
- Do I want this information on my medical record?
- What if I get a negative result?
- What if I get a positive result?
- Where would I like to get tested?
Have I been at risk?
HIV can only be transmitted in certain ways. If you have not been at risk from HIV then it is recommended you do not take a HIV test as not only would it be an unnecessary waste of resources but it can also cause you undue stress.
Do I want this test on my medical record?
You may never have thought about your medical records before. Most of the time it does not matter to us what is on our medical records. Having a HIV test is different. Even though having a test is a responsible thing to do, because of the prejudice around HIV, going for a test can sometimes have unwanted consequences.
Certain insurance premiums like life insurance can be dramatically increased, or refused, if you have a HIV test on your medical record. This can happen even if the test result is negative as the insurance company considers you to be high risk.
This extra premium, or refusal, would be regardless of your lifestyle or the reasons for your test. The only exception to this policy is women who have had an anti natal HIV test as this is considered to be routine screening.
Under certain circumstances you may have to consent to others requesting information from your doctor about your medical history (possibly for work, mortgage applications or other reasons).
Once you provide your consent, your doctor is legally obliged to release the full medical history. If your HIV test is on your medical records then this will be included and you will have no control as to where that information goes or what people will do with it.
You may have a family doctor and the same staff may have worked in those surgeries for years, seeing and treating all the members of your family, friends and neighbours. A receptionist, nurse or other staff in the surgery are trusted to manage certain aspects of the patients’ medical records. These people will know you have had a test. If these people have access to your records then they can also see your results.
What if I get a negative result?
Receiving a negative result means no specific HIV antibodies have been found in your blood.
As long as you have not been at risk from HIV at any point in the three months before your test then you are not living with HIV and can be confident that you are HIV negative.
If you have been at risk at any point in the three months before your test then you will need to repeat the HIV test in three months time.
Receiving a negative result now does not mean you will be clear of HIV forever. In order to maintain your HIV negative status you may need to learn about HIV prevention methods. Please go to our HIV prevention page for more information.
What if I get a positive result?
Receiving a positive result means specific HIV antibodies or antigens have been found in your blood. This means that you may be living with HIV and a second test will be done immediately in order to confirm that you are HIV positive.
This can be difficult to hear. You may be shocked, confused and upset. It is possible that you will have a lot of questions and you need answers.
If you were tested somewhere other than the STI clinic at the Mid Western Regional hospital you will also be given an appointment with HIV consultant at the STI clinic in the Regional Hospital, Limerick.
You will have a few blood tests. These blood tests will measure your HIV viral loads (how much HIV is in your blood) and your CD4 count (how many white blood cells are in your blood) and give your doctor a much clearer idea of your health status. You will also be given our contact details.
You can live a long and healthy life. In Ireland you are much more likely to die of old age than HIV related illness.
All of your HIV health care will be free.
You don’t have to tell anyone. Remember once you have told someone you cannot take it back. Hopefully as part of your preparation for getting the test you will have chosen someone to support you and they are someone you can trust. It is not necessary to tell even your sexual partner straight away. Take some time for yourself before telling anyone else.
If you did not prepare for some reason, maybe your test was part of a standard screening process, then you may need someone to talk to immediately. We would welcome your call (061 316661 or 061314354 during office hours or 087 2912848).
Where would I like to get tested?
Once you have decided you want a HIV test then all you have to do is choose where to go. For more information about your options please go to this page.