Testing for HIV

Treatment for HIVTesting for HIV is done via a blood test, which detects HIV antibodies. These antibodies are produced in the body in response to an infection. If infected with HIV, then HIV antibodies will be present in that person's blood. It is important to remember that it can take up to 3 months for HIV antibodies to develop after a person has been infected.

Having an HIV test is entirely optional. When you request a HIV antibody test, there should always be an opportunity to discuss the test and possible implications of the results prior to testing with a health care worker. The results are completely confidential.

HIV test results are only given in person, not by telephone and take roughly one week to come back.

Negative test result can mean 2 things:

  • Either, a person has not been infected with HIV or
  • That person has been infected with HIV but has not yet produced antibodies, since this can take up to 3 months after infection

Positive test result means:

  • A person has been infected with HIV. All positive tests are confirmed by further testing

Treatment or Management of HIV

There is currently no cure or vaccine for HIV and once a person is infected the virus stays in their body for life. However, antiviral drugs are available to help manage HIV. Please discuss this with your doctor or sexual health clinic.

Having a healthy lifestyle, including, eating well, exercising and reducing stress can also help people with HIV to continue to feel well.

Prevention of HIV

In order to reduce the risk of contracting HIV:

  • CondomsPractising safe sex, which means using condoms and dams, reduces the risk of contracting HIV. They stop bodily fluids like, semen, blood and vaginal fluids from being exchanged. A dam is a thin latex square held over the vaginal or anal area during oral sex. Using gladwrap is not a safe alternative to dams, but a condom split along one side and laid flat can be used as a dam. Dams are available from selected chemist. For more information on Dams, please visit
  • Never share needles or injecting equipment or personal items such as razors, toothbrushes as they can carry traces of infected blood
  • A mother who is infected with HIV should not breastfeed her baby.

Emotional Support

Finding out you have HIV is often a huge shock and can be extremely stressful. You may feel like your whole world has just collapsed and you find it is very difficult to cope with emotionally. The concept of you having HIV can also be a immense challenge for your partner to deal with and to accept. He or she may feel similar emotions to you and be devastated, scared and confused as well. Even though this is a time you need support, it can be detrimental to a relationship if you and/or your partner find it too distressing. Additionally, you may start to experience discrimination from people around you, like in your personal relationships, housing and employment. It is extremely important to overcome these emotional effects, since feeling distressed will impact your overall wellbeing, which in turn will impact your overall health. It is important to remain strong and find appropriate support.

Sexual Health Australia offers counselling and support for individuals and/or their partners who are learning to accept and to live with HIV. In the counselling sessions you are encouraged to express your feelings and emotions. Additionally, we will provide further education and information about the condition and we will guide you in taking the appropriate steps to coping with the situation emotionally. You are supported to develop goals and skills to deal with the challenge together and/or individually.  The counsellor is respectful and mindful of the individual and relationship challenges, your norms and your values. Additionally, the sessions are completely confidential.

If you wish to make an appointment with one of our friendly counsellors, please don't hesitate to contact us at:

For more information on our counselling sessions/appointments please click here.

We do not offer STI testing or medical advice, for an overall check up and medical treatment please contact either your GP or a Sexual Health Clinic in your area.



Sex therapy and Relationship Counselling is available in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) -  Melbourne, Victoria (VIC) -  Adalaide, South Australia (SA) -  Perth, Western Australia (WA) - Darwin, Northern Territories (NT) -  Hobart, Tasmania (TAS) - Brisbane, Queensland (QLD) - Canberra, Australian Capital territory (ACT)


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