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Confidential HIV Counseling and Testing for U.Va. Students

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

What is the HIV antibody test?

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) antibody test determines whether or not a person has been exposed to HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This test is often erroneously referred to as an "AIDS test," but does not test for AIDS. The HIV test is used to detect antibodies which are produced by the immune system to fight the virus. A positive HIV antibody test means that you have been infected with HIV, not that you have AIDS.

What is a confidential test?

HIV testing at U.Va.'s Student Health Center is confidential, meaning your results are between you and your health care provider. Confidential tests use your name to identify your blood sample. Positive results are recorded in your medical records and reported by name to the state health department.

Why should I get tested?

It may be beneficial to get tested if you have been exposed to someone's blood, semen, or vaginal fluid through:

  • Unprotected sex (vaginal, oral or anal)
  • Sharing injection drug equipment
  • Receiving blood before June 1985 or blood products before 1987

When should I be tested?

It takes some time for the immune system to develop antibodies to HIV; therefore, the test is not accurate immediately after infection has occurred. This period of time between suspected infection and when the antibodies can be detected is different for each individual. It is suggested that you wait to be tested until three to four months after possible HIV infection. Never use blood donation as an HIV antibody test because if you were recently infected you could still transmit HIV through the blood supply.

Testing options at Student Health

The Elson Student Health Service provides two options for confidential HIV antibody testing to U.Va. students. Testing is free when blood samples are sent to the state laboratory, and results will be available in four weeks. To receive results sooner, your blood sample can be sent to the U.Va. Hospital lab for analysis for a $86 fee and will be available in a week.

Making an appointment for HIV antibody testing/counseling at Student Health

Health care providers at U.Va. are required to do both pre and post HIV antibody test counseling, so you will need to make two appointments by calling the Office of Health Promotion at 434-924-1509. The first appointment involves pre-test counseling to assess your personal risk of HIV infection. During this session your provider will instruct you to set up a second appointment for a post-test counseling session and to receive your results.

Importance of pre/post test counseling

An HIV test is much more than just a blood test. During the pre-test counseling you will be able to communicate with the counselor about personal risk behaviors and circumstances, feelings surrounding your behavior, and ways to adopt safer goal behaviors. The counselors explain what HIV is and educate about modes of transmission, incorporating risk reduction techniques and safer sex methods. The counselors will prepare you for your return visit when you will receive the results of your test. This allows you to be aware of the possible test results and the meaning of the results. During post-test counseling you will learn the results of your test. The counselor will explain your test results, how to remain negative if you receive a negative result, and will provide appropriate advice and referrals if you receive a positive result. Test results are only given in person.

What do the test results mean?

If my test is negative... A negative test result indicates that at the time of the blood test no HIV antibodies were detected in your blood. You are either not infected with HIV or you have HIV and have not yet developed enough antibodies to be detected. The clinician doing your posttest counseling will help you to interpret what the results mean.

If my test is positive... A positive test result means that HIV antibodies were detected in your blood and that you have been infected with the virus. Having HIV infection does not mean that you will feel the effects of the virus immediately, nor does it mean that you have AIDS. Ten years is the average time between initial HIV infection and the development of the symptoms which can be defined as AIDS. In that case, it would be important that you work with health care providers to learn how best to maintain your health and prevent the spread of the infection.

Off-Grounds options

If you would prefer to be tested off grounds, the Charlottesville/Albemarle Health Department offers free confidential testing. The Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Clinic operates on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1-4pm on a walk-in basis; no appointment needed. Services include HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea testing at no charge. The Health Department is located at 1138 Rose Hill Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903. If you have any questions please call 434-972-6200.