HIV test

After a risk situation or at the start of a new relationship, having an HIV test is a good option as it provides clarity and safety. The regional Aids Advisory Service, GPs, hospitals or Checkpoints in your area can offer tests.

Automatisierte Blutprobe Tests. Diese Proben werden auf HIV, Hepatitis B und Hepatitis C getestet. Keystone/ Science Photo Library/ Tek Image

What is a risk situation?

  • Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with penetration.
  • Unprotected vaginal or oral sex during menstruation.
  • When semen enters the mouth during oral sex and/or is swallowed.
  • A condom mishap: ripping, slipping off or inappropriate use, poor quality or poorly stored condoms.
  • Needle sharing by intravenous drug users.
  • Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with penetration in a region with a high number of infected people (e.g Sub-Saharan Africa).

I had unprotected sex. Should I get myself tested?

This depends on the risk situation, therefore it is important that you clarify the risk.

Go to www.check-your-love.life.ch and check out the risk or go to a regional Aids Advisory Service near you or visit a Checkpoint for more advice. 

I am slightly afraid of having the test. What should I do?

Fear is never a good advisor. Only by having the test and getting the result will you get an answer. Visit a regional Aids Advisory Service in your area, they will stand by you and give you advice. If you prefer you can telephone them for more information.

Should I get advice or simply just get myself tested?

After being in a risk situation, the most important thing is to know from the test whether there is an infection or not. On the other hand receiving counselling has the advantage that your particular situation will be discussed in detail. So, if the result is positive, the person concerned can be told about the medical, social and legal situation. This offer of counselling is known as Voluntary Counselling and Testing or VCT.

Where can I be tested anonymously?

You can be tested in hospitals, at Checkpoints or at Regional Aids Advisory Services in your area, without having to give your name. But you must then pay for the test yourself.

How much is an HIV test?

An HIV test costs around 60 Swiss francs. If you take the test anonymously, you should be prepared to pay for it yourself. If the test is carried out on the instructions of a doctor or in a hospital, your health insurance company will cover the costs.

When is the test result sufficiently reliable?

After a risk situation, an infection with HIV can only be reliably ruled out three months after a negative test result. This is because some people, after being infected, take up to three months to build up enough antibodies that can be measured with the HIV test.

An HIV positive test result can demonstrate the presence of HIV in the blood earlier, if the first HIV positive test result is confirmed by a second HIV test.
In short this means that reliable exclusion of an HIV infection needs a minimum of three months, but reliable proof of an HIV infection can happen earlier.

How soon after exposure can I carry out an HIV test?

Basically a test after a definite risk situation is always wise. This is possible, at the earliest, two weeks after the risk situation, as some people have already built up antibodies against HIV. When this result is positive, it is only reliable after a second HIV confirmation test. However a negative test result means that an HIV infection can only be reliably ruled out three months after the risk situation. This is because people build up antibodies at different rates after an infection and this can take up to three months in borderline cases. For this reason the test must be repeated after three months.

Must I use protection during the three months until the reliable negative test result arrives?

Yes. The Safer Sex Rules protect your partner (male or female) from a possible HIV transmission during this time.

Will anyone know if I am HIV positive?

No. This information is subject to doctor-patient confidentiality. It is up to you alone to inform people of your HIV infection. For statistical reasons however, a report will be sent, anonymized, to the Federal Office of Public Health.

Can I be tested for HIV without my consent?

No. An HIV test can only be carried out with your voluntary consent.