How can I get Anonymous HIV Testing?

Margo Upson

Being tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is important for anyone who is sexually active. The earlier HIV is caught, the earlier treatment can begin. Most people, however, are uncomfortable with going into a doctor's office or clinic and giving their name, address, and phone number before being tested. Fortunately, there is an option that allows anyone to be tested in a very discrete way.

Many clinics administer HIV tests free of charge.
Many clinics administer HIV tests free of charge.

Anonymous HIV testing is one of the most popular testing methods because it guarantees complete anonymity for the patient. Many clinics offer this service, usually for free. Anyone who wants the anonymous HIV testing can usually call to make an appointment or just stop into a clinic. The patient will be assigned, or can choose, a number or letter combination that will be used as their identification for testing purposes.

Once the patient's sample has been taken, the sample will be labeled with the letter or number code, and then sent into a laboratory for results. Some clinics offer rapid testing, allowing the test to be completed within 20 minutes. Even with rapid testing, the patient's name is never provided, keeping the results between the tester, who doesn't know the patient's name, and the patient.

Many clinics that offer anonymous HIV testing offer other services as well. Pre-test and post-test counseling is one of the more common services. A clinic may also offer free confirmatory tests, to make sure that the first result was not a false positive or negative. The clinic workers are usually caring and non-judgmental, and they see dozens of patients every day in the same position.

There are many ways to find anonymous HIV testing. The local yellow pages may list clinics that offer this service. There are also many websites that list anonymous testing clinics. The National Aids Hotline, 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), which is sponsored by the Center for Disease control, can help someone to find a clinic in their area, as well as provide other information about testing and HIV itself.

There are several reasons why someone might want to do anonymous HIV testing. Many states have a law in place that requires any positive HIV results to be sent in local public health officials. Insurance companies would learn that the person has been tested when they receive a record of the bill. By not providing a name, patients can guarantee that their results will not be shared. If a patient tests positive, the information will still be sent in later, after the patient begins treatment for the HIV; however, there are laws to protect the privacy of individuals with HIV or other diseases, and this should not discourage someone from getting tested or seeking treatment.

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