You may be at risk of contracting HIV if a condom breaks, if you have sex without a condom with a partner whose HIV status you do not know, or if you are sharing injecting equipment. If you are concerned you may have been exposed to HIV, you can talk to a doctor or hospital for an assessment. Your doctor may recommend post-exposure prophylaxis.
If you are unsure about whether or not to see a doctor, check your risk online.
To arrange a confidential HIV test in Melbourne contact the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic on (03) 9347 0244 or toll free on 1800 032 017 or contact the Alfred Hospital in Prahran on (03) 9076 2000.
How much does the test cost?
From 1 November 2005, diagnostic testing for HIV in Australia became available on the Medical Benefits Schedule, meaning your doctor can order an HIV test free of charge.
How does the test work?
Having an HIV test tells you whether or not you are infected with HIV. The human body produces antibodies to fight the virus and the initial screening test for HIV looks for these antibodies, not the virus itself. The HIV antibody test is a simple blood test performed on a small sample of your blood. The sample can be taken by your doctor, or in a community clinic or health centre. The blood must be sent to a laboratory for testing and the law protects the confidentiality of your test.
Test results are available within seven days. If the test detects no HIV antibodies, the person is said to be HIV-negative. However the body can take up to three months to produce antibodies after infection occurs, so it may be necessary to test again, depending on how recently potential exposure took place. If the test does detect the antibodies, the person is said to be HIV-positive.
In Victoria, people who request an HIV test must by law receive pre- and post-test counselling. This can only be delivered by a doctor, or a person who has successfully completed an approved training course. Information and counselling should take place to ensure the individual understands what it means to get tested. A test result should only be given to individuals during post-test counselling.