A follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are living with HIV (or HIV-positive).
If you had a rapid screening test, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure the screening test result was correct. If your blood was tested in a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same sample.
It is important that you start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy or ART (taking medicine to treat HIV infection) is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they are. HIV medicine works by lowering the amount of virus in your body to very low levels. HIV medicine can make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load). HIV medicine slows the progression of HIV and helps protect your immune system. If you take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can stay healthy for many years, and you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you don’t have health insurance, or you’re unable to afford your co-pay or co-insurance amount, you may be eligible for government programs that can help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. Your health care provider or local public health department can tell you where to get HIV treatment.
To lower your risk of transmitting HIV:
• Take HIV medicine (antiretroviral therapy or ART) as prescribed. If you take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
• Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom and female condom.
• If your partner is HIV-negative, encourage them to talk to their health care provider to see if taking daily medicine to prevent HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) is right for them.
• If you think your partner might have been recently exposed to HIV—for example, if the condom breaks during sex and you aren’t virally suppressed—they should talk to a health care provider as soon as possible within the next 3 days (72 hours) about taking medicines (called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP) to prevent getting HIV.
• Get tested and treated for STDs and encourage your partner to do the same.
• Receiving a diagnosis of HIV can be a life-changing event. People can feel many emotions—sadness, hopelessness, or anger. Allied health care providers and social service providers, often available at your health care provider’s office, will have the tools to help you work through the early stages of your diagnosis and begin to manage your HIV.
• Talking to others who have HIV may also be helpful. Find a local HIV support group. Learn about how other people living with HIV have handled their diagnosis.