How HIV test results are handled varies from doctor to doctor, and from office to office. Most doctors will be unwilling to share or discuss HIV test results on the phone -- whether the result is negative or positive.
If your test does show that you have HIV, the doctor is likely to be keen to ensure that you receive the result. As it is a serious medical condition, it would be important that you receive the information. So you might be asked to come into the office or to make an appointment, to discuss your test results.
But that doesn't mean that anyone who is asked to come in for follow-up is going to get an HIV positive result. There are SO MANY other possible reasons why your doctor might want to talk to you.
- Most doctors prefer to only give HIV test results face-to-face, whether the result is negative or positive.
- It is good practice to ensure that all people taking an HIV test get their results, whether the result is negative or positive.
- There may have been a technical problem with the test and they may need to take another sample to test again.
- You were probably tested for several other things at the same time as HIV. The results of these tests may need to be discussed.
One reason why a clinic may refuse to discuss test results over the phone is that it's important for them to know that they are giving the information to the right person. If a colleague or a roommate answered a call on your phone, clinical staff could inadvertently disclose confidential information to a third party. Someone could call the doctor's office and pretend to be you.
Some services do provide HIV test results over the phone, but this will usually have been arranged and discussed at the time of taking the test.
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In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about HIV testing in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Does longer wait for traditional test mean bad news?
I had a bunch of tests done on Monday. I called the doctor on Friday, as I hadn't heard anything. He said that the results of the PDA, cholesterol, blood cells and so on were fine, but the HIV result wasn't back yet. I'm so anxious I'm freaking out.
- Blood work and HIV Test
My doctor explained to me that if your whole blood count (WBC) shows a normal range, it can almost be a proxy for an HIV test because if you had HIV, your WBC result would be very high. Is this correct?