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HIV testing and pre-test discussion guidelines

Take sexual history

  • Determine human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk
  • determine when exposure to risk occurred.

Previous HIV test

Check date and result.

Explanation of test

  • Rationale for testing (early detection can improve long-term prognosis and reduce risk of transmission)
  • HIV antibody and antigen test
  • difference between HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • 6 week ‘window period’ from exposure to development of antibodies or detectable antigen
  • advise if repeat test will be necessary
  • confidentiality issues around HIV testing include appropriate policies within the surgery to protect the patient. Patients should be advised about protecting their own confidentiality by carefully considering and limiting whom they tell
  • obtain informed consent from patient
  • it is recommended that all HIV positive results are given in person by medical practitioners.

Test results

Implications of a negative result

  • Provides reassurance
  • provides opportunity to discuss prevention through safe sex
  • if exposure to risk was less than 6 weeks ago, a repeat test may be indicated.

Implications of a confirmed positive result

  • Discuss the difference between HIV and AIDS
  • check if there is a trusted support person available
  • discuss medical follow-up and treatments
  • support lifestyle changes, for example diet, smoking, rest, safe sex
  • contact tracing of past sexual partners
  • arrange another appointment for further counselling or refer to another agency.

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