Many people think of having a HIV blood test after learning that they are at risk of HIV. However, it is important to have comprehensive information on testing and its results.
Blood Testing Conditions
The reliability of a HIV blood test depends upon the timing of the blood test. It is necessary to take a test at least 1 month from the last risk exposure. (meaning- sex without a condom and sharing needles with others when injecting drugs). There must be no exposure to HIV at all during that 1 month (using a condom for every act of intercourse and not sharing needles with others).
This 1 month period is called the “window period”, which refers to the period of time when it is not possible to detect HIV. If your blood test is in accordance with these conditions, the result should be reliable.
Reason: This kind of blood test does not look for HIV but for HIV antibodies. When you contract the virus your body will gradually produce antibodies to fight the HIV in your body. After 1 month, the result of a blood test should be a reliable way to discern your HIV status.
The meaning of the blood test result
A blood test under the above conditions will give one of two results:
Negative: If the result is ‘negative’ you have not contracted HIV from the latest suspected exposure given that it was more than 1 month prior. (there are no future guarantees)
Positive: If the result is ‘positive’ it means that you are infected with HIV. The test to find the HIV antibodies is only able to tell you that you have HIV but is unable to specify how long you been infected.
If the HIV test is positive, it is common practice for a medical technician to retest the blood to ensure an accurate result by using a different type of test before informing you of the result. If you are not confident of the result, it is possible to take another test.
You can go to have a HIV blood test in government hospitals (Central, provincial and community hospitals), private hospitals, anonymous clinics and private clinics that provide HIV blood testing services. The most important thing is that the testing site should also provide pre- and post counseling. This is an important way to help you understand the result of the test and prepare you for the blood test result.
Currently, the testing technology and the testing methods appear to be of a similar, reliable standard. However there may be price variations and the quality of the counseling services may differ.
The fee for a HIV test provided at a government site will be about 80-300 baht. The cost will be higher at private clinics from 300-800 baht.
A nationwide random qualitative survey of service providers of pre and post counseling services was completed in November- December 2005. It found that more up to date and accurate information on treatment and pre and post counseling was available in the public system than in the private clinics.
Prepare Yourself before having a blood test
- If you are at risk of HIV and the test shows that you are positive, ask yourself these following questions:
- Are you prepared for the result?
- What will be your reaction to learning that you are positive? Will you be depressed?
- Do you have anyone to talk to?
- How will you handle the situation?
You have the right to have or not have a HIV test. A person’s right with regard to HIV blood testing is enshrined in constitutional law Section 31. “A person shall enjoy the right and liberty in his or her life and person…….” Hence, to force anyone to take a blood test in any circumstances, including annual health check ups for staff, for recruitment purposes or any other reason is considered a violation of human rights and it is against the law.
Guidelines to follow after receiving your blood test result
If you need to maintain a negative result, it is important to protect yourself every time you have sex and/or never share needles with others when injecting drugs, otherwise, it is still possible for you to contract HIV in the future.
If you have a positive result
When learning that you are positive, you might feel confused, sad, depressed, worried or have other negative emotions. You might need to consider how you will cope with these feelings. If you do not know what to do, you might need to talk to someone. You can contact the organisation below, where counselors are available to talk to you.
Nowadays, the treatment of HIV/AIDS has advanced considerably. HIV/AIDS is considered a chronic disease that is able to be controlled and can be treated. PLWHAs are able to live long and normal lives if they have appropriate treatment.
If you know your HIV status before you get sick, it will allow you to seek appropriate health care and have a physical check-up and a blood test to access your immune status (CD4 level). This will help you to devise a treatment plan and enable you to monitor your immune system in order to get timely treatment with ARV when needed.
Many PLWHA may contract an opportunistic infection (OI). These OIs are curable but need appropriate care and immediate and continual quality treatment. All public hospitals have the capacity to treat these diseases. The patients are able to exercise their right to treatment in all health care schemes including private health insurance schemes, the social security scheme, government officer’s scheme, and the national health care scheme.
HIV positive people, who know that they are positive and are still sexually active, need to consider how they will prevent themselves from infecting others. For example, if your partner is negative, how you will protect them. If your partner is positive, how you will keep each other healthy.
May be a condom is the way to solve many problems... if people use it
Need more information on HIV/AIDS?
TNP+ Tel. 0-2377-5065 Mon-Fri. from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
AIDS National Call Center: Tel. 1663 everyday 9:00 am - 9:00 pm