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All About HIV Testing
      #139066 - 03/21/05 09:41 PM

• There are a couple of different types of tests being used to help people determine if they have been infected with HIV. However, when people say "HIV test", they are usually referring to a standard antibody test.
• When having a standard HIV antibody test, there must be at least six weeks time between the time a person was last at risk for contracting HIV and the time that he/she gets a test done. Some people call this the "window period". The HIV test is looking for antibodies, which are the body’s response to having HIV in it. For most people, it takes six weeks for the body to produce enough antibodies for a standard HIV antibody test to be accurate.
• If people are continually at risk (active intravenous drug users, for example), they may want to get tested even if six weeks have not passed since their last risk. If the test result is negative, though, people may want to get retested again later.
• For people who have been at risk for contracting HIV, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health offers confidential HIV testing through a series of clinics. Confidential testing means that there will be a private record kept with a name attached to it. Test results cannot be released to anyone other than the person being tested without written consent. Confidential testing can also be done at a regular doctor’s office. There are also a few state-funded anonymous testing sites. Anonymous means that no name is involved; all record keeping is done by a code number. To find a convenient testing site, to talk about testing options, or learn more about the testing process, people can call the AIDS Action Committee Hotline at 1-800-235-2331.

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