About Rapid HIV Testing
HIV testing in Melbourne has changed forever. Free, rapid HIV testing for gay and other men who have sex with men has arrived! Run by like-minded men, PRONTO! offers a different, less confronting testing experience. PRONTO! is a rapid HIV and STI testing service – we offer free fingerprick tests for HIV which provide results in 20 minutes. The rapid tests are efficient at detecting antibodies and antigens (which are present if you have HIV). Like lab based tests, rapid tests have a window period. The window period is the period between exposure to the HIV virus and the appearance , in your blood, of antibodies and antigens (your immune systems response) . Most people will produce antibodies and antigens to HIV within six weeks after exposure to the virus and in sufficient quantities to be detected by a rapid test.. This means that if you have had a very recent exposure to HIV , the rapid tests will not detect an infection. Some people can take longer to produce enough antibodies and antigens to be detected on the tests, up to 3 months, so at PRONTO! we recommend testing again 3 months after your last risk. In fact, we recommend testing every three months – that way, it becomes a routine – one of the ways you can look after yourself, and others.
What Are The Possible Results of a Rapid HIV Test?
There are one of three possible results that you could get from a Rapid HIV test: • “Non-reactive” – HIV antibodies or antigens were not detected in the blood sample. It’s important to note that if you have had a risk in the “window period” you should re-test again in 3 months. • “Reactive” – This result is highly likely to indicate the presence of HIV antibodies or antigens in your blood. This result is preliminary and needs to be confirmed with a blood test from a vein in your arm which is sent to the lab. This is because very occasionally – about on in two hundred -the reactive result is false. The laboratory results will be available within a week. • “Invalid” – there is a possibility that the rapid test may not work. In this situation you will be offered a repeat rapid test if time permits, or as soon as possible thereafter.
What Should I Expect?
When you arrive for your appointment, you simply complete a registration form (for your first visit only) then take a seat and complete a questionnaire until your test facilitator collects you. Your test facilitator will provide you with information on rapid HIV and STI testing at PRONTO! and then proceed to perform the tests, if appropriate. While the rapid test is working your test facilitator will have a conversation with you about your risk for HIV, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections. You’ll get the result of your rapid HIV test after twenty minutes and your STI test results within 7-10 days. We aim to make the appointments no longer than 30 minutes, so you can be in and out in a flash!
Our workers are all gay or bi men, here because they love the work! They are not doctors or nurses, but they have all been extensively trained to perform Rapid Tests and STI screens. Over 9,000 people have used PRONTO! so far and surveys have indicated almost unanimous satisfaction with the experience, the staff and the environment. Our staff are able to answer questions you might have about your sexual health in a non-judgemental fashion. We will also be able to help with referral to other services if required.