Getting tested for HIV and STIs: how does it work?

An HIV and STI test at your doctor's office or at an STI clinic will always start with a consultation. The doctor or nurse will ask questions to determine which tests will be necessary, based on the kinds of risk you have run. Next, the doctor or nurse will do a physical examination. Normally you can do your own anal swab. The nurse (or doctor's assistant) will do the throat swab and draw a blood sample. The results will be known after a week. If necessary, you will receive treatment quickly and get advice on how you can notify your sex partners. Would you prefer to arrange your STI and HIV testing anonymously and online? Check out Man tot Man's Testlab.

Short consultation

The doctor or nurse will first ask you a few standard questions about your sex life and whether or not you have any symptoms of STIs and/or HIV. The questions will concern things like who you have had sex with, how many different partners you have had and which sexual techniques you used. The parts of your body that will need to be tested, and in which ways, will depend on your answers to those questions.

Physical examination

The doctor or nurse will check if there are any skin disorders or other symptoms that could point to an STI. Even if you haven't noticed any symptoms yourself, the doctor or nurse can check to see if there is anything unusual.

Taking samples

At the GGD or the STI clinic you will be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, Hepatitis B and HIV. You will provide some of your own sample materials (for example a urine sample and sometimes also an anal swab), and the doctor or nurse will also take some sample materials such as a blood sample and swabs from your throat, anus and/or urethra. Hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV are tested via the blood samples, while gonorrhea and chlamydia are tested via the urine samples and the swabs.

Getting tested via Testlab

Would you rather arrange for free and anonymous HIV and STI testing online, whenever it is most convenient for you? If you live in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam-Rijnmond or Haaglanden areas, or if you live in Groningen, Drenthe or Friesland, you can request testing for HIV and STI yourself online via Testlab.

With the request form, you can then go to a laboratory near you that works together with the GGD. First you hand in the request form. Then an assistant will draw a blood sample and, in most labs, make a culture from your throat. Finally, you will be asked to hand in your own anal swab and a urine sample.

Results

In most cases, the test results will be known within a week. You will get a telephone call with the results or an email or a text message saying that you can come and get your results. Different STI clinics may have different procedures. Some STI clinics also offer rapid testing for HIV. The results of such a test are known within an hour.  The results of a rapid HIV test will still need to be confirmed using a standard HIV test. The results of the standard test will follow within one week.

The rapid HIV test gives reliable results if you take it at least three full months after the moment that you ran a risk in terms of HIV.

If you do the test via Testlab, you will receive an email within two weeks, as soon as the results become available. Did any of the tests detect something? If so, contact the GGD nearest you to get the results and receive treatment as soon as possible. 

Treatment and partner notification

If the test results show that you have an STI or HIV, you will quickly be offered treatment. In addition, the GGD nurse can notify your sex partners that they have run a risk of getting an STI. That is to say: it is very important that they also get tested for STIs and HIV. This partner notification is done completely anonymously, unless you would prefer that the nurse mentions your name to your (ex-) partners.

Free vaccination against Hepatitis B

During an STI check-up at the STI clinic or the GGD, you will be offered a free vaccination against Hepatitis B. If you have not yet been fully vaccinated against Hepatitis B, this is an easy way to get your free vaccination. 

 

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