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Confidential HIV Counseling and Testing for U.Va. Students

Call Gynecology clinic @ 434-924-2773 or General Medicine clinic @ 434-982-3915
to make an appointment

What is an HIV test?

An HIV test determines whether or not a person has been infected with HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The test is sometimes erroneously referred to as an “AIDS test”, but it does not test for AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of disease. Early detection and treatment of HIV infection may prevent or delay development of AIDS. It also prevents spread of HIV infection to others.

Should I get tested for HIV?

CDC recommends that health care providers test everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 at least once as part of routine health care. Almost one in five people in the United States who have HIV do not know they are infected.

HIV is spread through unprotected sex and illicit IV drug use, so people who engage in these behaviors should get tested more often. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should definitely get an HIV test:

  • Have you had unprotected sex (sex without a condom)—anal, vaginal, or oral—with men who have sex with men or with multiple partners since your last HIV test?
  • Have you injected drugs (including steroids, hormones, or silicone) and shared equipment (or works, such as needles and syringes) with others?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), like syphilis?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
  • Have you had unprotected sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose history you don’t know?

If you continue having unsafe sex or sharing injection drug equipment, you should get tested at least once a year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).

You should also get tested if

  • You have been sexually assaulted.
  • You are a woman who is planning to get pregnant or who is pregnant.

Confidential Test Results

HIV test results are confidential. The test result will be recorded in your medical record and may be shared with your health care providers and your health insurance company. Otherwise, the results are protected by state and federal privacy laws. If your test is positive, your name and result are reported to the state health department as required by law. This helps public health officials estimate the rate of HIV infection in the state. The state health department will share non-identifying information with CDC.

Testing Options at Student Health

Your Student Health clinician will provide you with pre-test counseling. Your blood sample can be sent to one of two possible laboratories:

  1. UVA Health system lab: Results are typically available in 1-2 days. There is a charge for this test (see Price Schedule available on the Student Health website). The cost of the test will be billed to your insurance. You will receive a bill for any uncovered cost.
  2. State Lab: Results are typically available in 2-4 weeks. There is no charge for this test.

Your Student Health clinician will contact you when results are available and offer post-test counseling. If your result is positive, your clinician will schedule a follow-up appointment with you at Student Health. The clinician will refer you to appropriate health care specialists for further care and address any immediate health care needs. If your test is negative, your clinician may offer advice about when and how often to repeat testing and ways to reduce your risk for HIV.

Testing Options Off-Grounds

  1. Local Health Department: Local health departments offer HIV testing. You can make an appointment with the health department in your home town or locally in Charlottesville. The Charlottesville/ Albemarle Health Department is located at 1138 Rose Hill Drive. Testing is free and confidential. Results are typically available in 1-2 weeks and are only delivered in person at a follow-up appointment (not by phone). For questions or an appointment call 434-972-6200.
  2. Your Primary Care Provider: Your regular physician or gynecologist can order HIV testing.
  3. AIDS/ HIV Services Group (ASG): ASG is located at 315 10th St NE, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Testing is free and confidential. Results are typically available in 20 minutes. For an appointment, call 434-979-7714.

What do the test results mean?

UVA Health System Labs follow the most recent CDC guideline and test for the presence of antibodies to HIV (your body’s response to the virus) as well as an HIV antigen (a part of the virus itself). By performing this combination test, persons infected with HIV will now test positive sooner than in the past when antibodies alone were used for testing. With the new tests, most persons would test positive if they have been infected with HIV for at least 3 weeks. (The old tests took up to 3 months to test positive)

If my test is negative: A negative test result means that no evidence of infection was found at the time of the test. You are either not infected with HIV or you have not been infected long enough for the test to become positive (also known as the window period). If you get a negative result within about 3 weeks of your most recent possible exposure, you need to be tested again once 3 weeks has past. In the meantime, practice abstinence or mutual monogamy with a trusted partner, use condoms or barriers each time you have sex, and don’t share needles and other drug equipment.

If my test is positive: Some positive tests will need to be confirmed with additional testing. If confirmed, a positive result means that the HIV virus and/or HIV antibodies were detected in your blood and you have been infected with HIV. Most infected patients do not feel sick. However, you can spread HIV to others through sexual activity and sharing of needles or other drug equipment. Females can also pass it to a child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. It is important to get education and counseling with a new diagnosis of HIV. It is also important to be referred to an HIV specialist. There are medicines to treat HIV infection and to help you stay healthy. It’s never too early to start treatment.