You may be wondering what exactly happened when you were tested for and then diagnosed with HIV. Here we’ll explain how the HIV test showed that you have HIV, and what happened when you were given your test result.

Your HIV Test Results
An HIV-positive test result means that doctors have either found antibodies to HIV, or a protein found in HIV (called the p24 antigen), in your blood. These can only be found if HIV is present in your blood as well. The p24 antigen can be detected about two to four weeks after someone is infected, whereas the HIV antibodies can take up to three months to be produced.

Many clinics offer combined p24 antigen/antibody tests (also known as fourth generation tests) which are accurate after one month of any risk of HIV infection.

When your body starts producing antibodies to HIV, you go through a process known as ‘seroconversion’. During this time you may feel, or have felt ill. Some people describe this as feeling like they have a flu-like illness, however not everyone feels ill during seroconversion.

When you were given your test result, you probably spent a short while with a health adviser. Their role is to find out what your immediate concerns are and to make another appointment for you to have further tests. You may have found that the shock of diagnosis made it difficult to concentrate, so don’t worry if you don’t remember what you discussed with the health adviser. If this is the case, arrange another appointment with the health adviser when you feel more capable of concentrating.

Health advisers are there for you to talk to about anything you may be worried about, and you can arrange an appointment with one whenever you feel the need. They can also provide advice or short-term counselling, and can refer you on to other support services and professionals who are there to help.

It is really important that you return to your clinic for further tests. If you haven’t made an appointment yet, give your clinic a call and speak to one of the health advisers who will be able to do this for you.

"Immediately after my diagnosis, the clinic’s health advisers and my doctor were very helpful. I got some counselling from a health adviser with my test results, then agreed to another blood test and to talk to a doctor who would be able to answer all my questions. My head was in a spin to say the least so I don't think I had many questions when I got my result. They arranged for me to see a doctor as soon as my blood results were back. I've stayed with that doctor ever since. He's caring and straightforward and very easy to get along with." (Jason, 39)