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Getting Tested for HIV

Most HIV tests look for antibodies to the virus, not HIV itself. Antibodies to HIV appear in your blood, urine, and oral fluid as the immune system begins trying to fight the virus. HIV tests looks specifically for HIV antibodies to see if you are infected with HIV.

Some HIV tests take a few days for results, but rapid HIV tests can give results in about 15 to 20 minutes. Many places offer HIV tests. Here are some great ways to find an HIV testing location near you:
  • Visit HIVtest.org. Enter your ZIP code and you'll get a list of HIV testing sites, including those that offer free HIV tests.
  • Call 1-800 CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
  • Text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948) and you'll receive a message in reply that lists the nearest testing locations.
  • Information on testing sites is also available at the Miami-Dade Health Department website (www.dadehealth.org/hiv/HIVsites.asp)

On average, you may need to wait up to 3 months from the time of possible exposure to get a definitive test result. This is because it can take your body a while to start making HIV antibodies. The time between when you are exposed to HIV and the time you could test positive for HIV antibodies is called the window period. If you took an HIV test within the first 3 months after possible exposure, you should consider getting another test 3 months later to confirm your results.