Tests For HIV

Q: Tests for HIV, why so many? I am in Philadelphia area and I have been looking at the options for my HIV test, there are so many how do I choose?

A: As covered in a previous submission, there are multiple tests for HIV. If you have questions about which test you should be taking please see “When to Test For HIV” for more information.

Your question seems to have more to do with what HIV testing site to use. The obvious choices might include testing with your doctor, free STD testing, or an organization that specializes in private HIV testing.

Testing with your doctor of course is a trustworthy option. If you use your doctor you can most likely use your health insurance so that you won’t have to pay out of pocket. This will likely require your doctor’s normal wait for an appointment, and perhaps another few weeks for the follow up appointment to get your results. The most common reasons people don’t use their primary care doctor is they want fast results, or may not want to chance having a positive reported to their insurance. Other simply don’t want to discuss their sexual health with their family doctor.

Another option is low cost or free HIV testing. This is usually a public service provided through your local health department. This may be offered to the general public for free or a very low cost. In some cases, you may have to qualify for assistance before they will provide health services. For some this is a great option to have, others prefer to spend a little more for a quick result turnaround and convenient times and locations. If you choose the health department, be prepared to wait as long as 2 to 4 weeks for your test results. Some health departments use a 20 minute rapid HIV test instead of an HIV lab test.

Your final option is private HIV testing. If you are concerned about privacy, convenience, or quick result turnaround this is a good option. At a private testing center you can usually get tested right away and also get quick lab results. You will notice there are many organizations to choose from so don’t be afraid to compare prices and look for the Better Business Bureau stamp of approval.