For anyone who is sexually active with multiple partners, having a periodic HIV test is essential. Even when both partners routinely practice safe sex, there is still the potential for some risk. Unfortunately, many people do not undergo HIV or STD testing for reasons related to cost or confidentiality. However, there are resources in many communities that make it possible to obtain free HIV testing that is also confidential.
By and large the most common resource for free HIV testing is local health clinics that cater to people with limited incomes. Most major cities will have at least one free clinic, with many metropolitan areas featuring several clinics located around the city limits. In some cases, these STD clinics will allow the individual to obtain testing for no charge or a modest fee, depending on the income level of the patient. The HIV testing is usually carried out by assigning the sample a number rather than a name. Only the individual and the clinic know which number correlates to what patient name.
Anonymous HIV testing is also sometimes offered by local and state level AIDS outreach associations. The application is similar to that employed by the clinics. Trained health care professionals collect the samples, assign a code name or number to the sample, and submit it to a lab for testing. The results are communicated back to the individual through the organization, keeping the entire process confidential.
In some communities, local medical associations offer free HIV testing. Doctors and labs donate their time and resources to providing the testing at no charge. While the process varies, many associations operate with a procedure in which the individual makes contact with the association and obtains a confidential identification code. The individual then calls one of the labs connected with the program and schedules an appointment. At the lab, the sample is labeled with the anonymous code. Several days later, the individual can contact the lab, provide the code, and receive the results of the free HIV testing.
In the last several years, more employers have provided free HIV testing for employees. Usually, the employer makes arrangements with an approved lab in the community. The individual seeking the AIDS test can schedule an appointment with the lab, submit the sample, and receive the results within a matter of days. Depending on factors such as local laws and the policies and procedures of the employer, it may not be necessary to inform the employer if the HIV testing results are positive.