I’m HIV positive

What is the difference between an Anonymous and a Confidential Test?

Anonymous and Confidential use the same testing method. The only difference is one does not have your name attached to the results.

Anonymous antibody testing is available at Anonymous Test Sites in most California counties. Anonymous testing means that absolutely no one has access to your test results since your name is never recorded at the test site.

Confidential antibody testing means that you and the health care provider know your results, which may be recorded in your medical file.

Which test should I have done: Anonymous or Confidential?

It is recommended that one have an anonymous test. The results will only be known to you and will not appear on any records.

Some reasons that one would need a confidential test would be: a result is required for immigration purposes or for some international travel visas; a pregnant woman who is clearly at risk might choose to be tested through her doctor, rather than anonymously, since the result is of key importance to the course of her medical care.

Asymptomatic Period

For up to 10 years after being infected, your infection will go through an asymptomatic period where you feel perfectly healthy. During this time, the HIV virus replicates within your body and starts to break down your immune system.

Some men complain of severely swollen lymph nodes (in the neck, or groin, or both) during this time, but this may be one of the only HIV symptoms men will experience.

I have heard there are many different types of HIV tests. How do I know which one I should take?

The combination of an Eliza/Western Blot HIV Antibody Test is the accepted testing method for HIV infection. This combination test is looking for the antibodies that develop to fight the HIV virus. There are two ways to conduct this test. Either through a blood draw or through the “Orasure” method (a sample of oral mucus obtained with a specially treated cotton pad that is placed between the cheek and lower gum for two minutes). Both forms, by blood draw or orally, have the same accuracy with their results.

Other tests that you will hear about are Viral Load tests. These tests are used by physicians to monitor their patients who have already tested positive for HIV antibodies. Viral Load tests are very costly and should not be used to determine if one is HIV positive.

What do test results mean?
A positive result means:

  • You are HIV-positive (carrying the virus that causes AIDS).
  • You can infect others and should try to implement precautions to prevent doing so.

    A negative result means:
  • No antibodies were found in your blood at this time.

    A negative result does NOT mean:
  • You are not infected with HIV (if you are still in the window period).
  • You are immune to AIDS.
  • You have a resistance to infection.
  • You will never get AIDS.

If I test positive, does that mean that I will die?
Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the virus that causes AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many opportunistic infections that make people sick can be controlled, prevented or eliminated. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life for people living with AIDS.

If I test HIV negative does that mean that my partner is HIV negative also?

Late-Stage Symptoms of HIV

As HIV advances into its later stages, your body’s immune system is weakened and you may start experiencing other infections, which may result in the following symptoms:

  •   Weight loss
  •   Dry cough
  •   Night sweats
  •   Fungal nail infection
  •   Yeast infection
  •   Cold sores
  •   Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  •   Weakness and numbness

HIV Symptoms: Weight Loss

HIV wasting syndrome is a common sign of HIV, particularly in cases of an advanced HIV infection. It is diagnosed if someone has unintentionally lost more than 10% of their body weight.

This occurs due to:

  •   Loss of appetite due to nausea
  •   Low dietary intake caused by ulcers of the mouth or oesophagus which make eating difficult
  •   Losing nutrients through diarrhoea, vomiting or poor absorption of nutrients in the intestine


No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status. Your negative test result does not tell you about the HIV status of your partner(s). HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time there is an exposure.

No one’s test result can be used to determine another person’s HIV status. 

I’m HIV positive. Where can I go for information about treatments?
The CDC National AIDS Hotline can offer practical information on maintaining health and general information about a wide variety of treatments, including antiretrovirals and prophylaxis for opportunistic infections. The hotline numbers are 1-800-342-2437 (English), 1-800-344-7432, (Spanish), or 1-888)-480-3739 (TTY). The CDC National AIDS Hotline can also provide referrals to national treatment hotlines, local AIDS Service Organizations and HIV/AIDS-knowledgeable physicians.

Detailed information on specific treatments is available from the HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service (ATIS) at 1-800-448-0440. Information on enrolling in clinical trials can be obtained from the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service (ACTIS) at 1-800-874-2572 (English and Spanish) and 1-888-480-3739 (TTY)


Do the new drugs I hear about cure you?
The new drugs you are referring to are a class of anti-HIV drugs known as protease inhibitors. There is NO cure for AIDS, but these drugs are helping to prolong the lives of many people with AIDS and delaying the onset of AIDS in many people with HIV. You should consult your own health care provider surrounding treatment issues. There is no standard treatment for everyone. Your health care provider will discuss your individual options.

Source: Your Health Encyclopedia, 4-rd Edition, 2002

Last Revised at May 27, 2015 by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

Provided by ArmMed Media