Test Now – But Why?

HIV Testing Information

Knowledge provides certainty!

Many men and women have been in a situation that presented a risk of HIV infection. The uncertainty afterwards is very stressful. Have I caught HIV and will I possibly become sick with the immune deficiency 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, treatment options today are better than ever before: the chances to grow 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 sample nor the laboratory that tests it knows the name of the patient. 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 Euro to cover their costs.
  • HIV testing is also possible at local (general practitioners’) and other doctors’ practices, although not anonymously.

How is the HIV test performed?

To perform the HIV test, blood is taken and checked for antibodies against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the pathogen responsible for AIDS. If an infection has taken place, such antibodies are present in the blood: the test is ‘positive’. If no antibodies are found, the test is ‘negative’ and there is no evidence of infection – although with one limitation: the body needs a certain time to react to an infection with HIV and to produce antibodies against the virus that has entered the body. It can take up to 12 weeks before these can be detected by the HIV test. This means that HIV infection can only be excluded with certainty three months after the contact that presented a risk for transmission – given, of course, that there was no further infection risk in the meantime.

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 und 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. The Bavarian Centre for Prevention and Health Promotion (Bayerisches Zentrum für Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung) has collated contact information in Bavaria on www.testjetzt.de.