When to do a HIV test?
If you took a risk less than 48 hours ago, (your condom broke for example), you can receive post-exposure prophylaxis which can prevent HIV infection from taking place. It can be prescribed and issued to you in the emergency room of any hospital.
If it’s more than forty eight hours since you took a risk, you can do a test around two weeks afterwards, but the result will not be 100% reliable. It takes longer to have a completely reliable result; 6 weeks for regular tests and 3 months for rapid tests.
It is during the period of primary infection (between 2 weeks and 3 months after infection) that the risk of spreading the virus is at its highest.
Where to do a test?
A “regular” test: In a Free and Anonymous Testing Centre or in a medical laboratory (in this case you need a doctor’s prescription), a health care worker does a blood test in your arm. The test result is given to you a few days later. The new generation of tests give you a reliable result six weeks after the last risk was taken.
A rapid test: If you want to be tested by a volunteer and to get your result in less than 2 hours, go to an AIDES regional office authorized to do community-based testing (Bordeaux, Montpellier, Paris…). Rapid tests are carried out using a few drops of blood from the person’s finger tip. They can be done in a matter of minutes and give a reliable result three months after the last risk was taken.
In any case, if you get a positive result, another test is done to confirm the diagnosis.
A positive or negative result, what does it mean?
If the result is “positive”, then it means that you are carrying the HIV virus in your body. It is very important to see your doctor at this point so you can receive medical care and if necessary be put on antiretroviral treatment. If you take care of your health, you can live a long and relatively healthy life with HIV.
An “indefinite” or “partially positive” result can happen due to the presence of another illness or a very recent exposure to the virus. If this happens you should speak to your doctor and do another test.
If you get a negative result three months or more after taking a risk then you are sure your negative result is reliable and you are HIV negative.
Rapid HIV test by the French organization AIDES
Paris (France) - July 2011