Call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) to find testing centers near you.
Buy a test at a pharmacy (without a prescription) and do the test at home.
Many testing centers will do an HIV test for free. Ask if there is a fee before
you go for testing. In most states you do not need a parent's permission to get tested
for HIV. And you can buy the test at the pharmacy without a parent.
How Do the Tests Work?
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others
use saliva (spit), but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for
HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune
system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates
antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.
Does HIV Always Show Up on Testing?
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly
HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 7‒28 days after infection.
Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 3‒12 weeks after
Who Will Know the Results of My Testing?
It depends on where you get your testing. Testing sites have different privacy
rules. Ask about privacy rules at your testing site so you understand whether anyone
else will know you got tested or see your results.
If you go to an anonymous test site, only you know the results. No written record
of the test result is kept.
If you go to a confidential test site, the results will go in your medical record.
Positive results are sent to the state or local health department. Your insurance
company will have access to your results. Depending on the state you live in, your
parent or guardian may be contacted.
What Happens if My Test Is Positive?
If you test positive for HIV, it is important to remember that with treatment you
can live a long, healthy life. In fact, with early treatment, people with HIV can
live about as long as people that are not infected.
A team approach will help you get the medical care and support that you need. Start
by talking to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site. He
or she can help you with suggestions on how to talk to your parents or guardians and
how to find a health care provider who's an HIV specialist. By starting treatment
as soon as possible, you can stay healthy and learn to live well with HIV.
If My Test Is Negative, Do I Need Get Tested Again?
Talk to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site to see
if you need to get tested again.
Some reasons to get tested again include if you:
have sex without a condom
are a guy who has sex with other guys
have had sex with more than three partners in the past year