Test Now - But Why?

HIV Testing Information

Knowledge gives certainty

Many men and women have a some point been in a situation that presented a risk of HIV infection. The uncertainty afterwards can be very stressful. Have I caught HIV and will I possibly get the immune deficiency syndrome AIDS? Or am I worrying needlessly? The only option for getting a clear answer is an HIV test.

The test result means certainty: the certainty of knowing that you have to protect yourself better in order not to find yourself in a similar situation again. Or the certainty of knowing that you have been infected, and now carry a new kind of responsibility for yourself and for your partner. Fortunately, today’s treatment options are better than ever before: the chances of growing old with HIV are good – as long as the infection is detected and treated early.


Where can I get tested for HIV?

You can get tested for HIV free of charge and anonymously at any public health service (Gesundheitsamt) in Bavaria. Neither the doctor who takes the blood sample nor the laboratory that tests it knows the patient’s name. No information about the test result leaves the health service.
Several AIDS counselling centres and service organisations in Bavaria also offer anonymous HIV testing. However, they need to charge approx. 25 euros to cover their costs.
HIV testing is also available at family doctors’ (general practitioners’) and other registered medical practices, although not anonymously.


How is the HIV test performed?

A certain amount of time must have passed for an infection with HIV to be excluded with certainty – depending on the type of test used, at least 6 weeks. Modern laboratory tests, like the ones used by public health authorities (Gesundheitsämter), can exclude an infection from six weeks after the last contact that presented a risk for HIV infection. In the case of rapid tests, which are often used by AIDS counselling centres and service organisations, 12 weeks must have passed before an infection can be excluded with certainty. Given, of course, that there was no further infection risk in the meantime.
To perform the laboratory test, a small amount of blood is taken, sent to a laboratory, and checked for HIV. The result is returned after around one week. If the result is ‘positive’, it means that an infection with the virus has taken place. To provide certainty, such a result must always be confirmed by examining a second blood sample. If the test result is ‘negative’, it means that there is no indication of infection. Rapid tests only require a drop of blood, which is tested directly on site.


Information, counselling and assistance

No matter how the result of the HIV test turns out, public health services, counselling centres and AIDS service organisations (Gesundheitsämter, Beratungsstellen and AIDS-Hilfen) offer confidential advice. Their experts provide information about infection risks and protection options. They offer advice and support if the test is positive, and provide referrals for further assistance, including for people who do no speak German. You can find a list of contact details in Bavaria at www.testjetzt.de.