Which HIV test procedures are being used in the laboratory?
In our laboratory, we examine blood with state-of-the-art test and quality assurance procedures. Beside the standard HIV search test, we also use HIV-PCR – a technique, which allows excluding HIV infection at a high level of confidence and at an even earlier point in time when compared to the search test. Results are typically available within a few hours, even without advance reservation.
What does HIV testing cost?
In the Labor Hamburg Stephansplatz, the HIV search test that provides reliable results as early as 6 weeks after risk contacts will cost € 20.11. The cost for HIV-PCR is € 147.46. An additional cost of € 9.55 for blood sampling and expenses applies to both test procedures.
How long must I wait for HIV test results?
We conduct the combined antibody antigen test on a daily basis in order to ensure that you have peace of mind as soon as possible. As long as blood sampling has been performed before 12 noon, test results will be available the same day. When blood sampling has been performed in the afternoon, results will be available the next working day. The results of the HIV-PCR procedure are available the next working day at the latest. By using our patient log-in, you can access your results in an easy and comfortable manner from your home (only applies to patients of the Labor Hamburg Stephansplatz).
How reliable is HIV testing?
Reliability of 4th generation HIV testing
We use a highly sensitive HIV search test, which is a combined antibody antigen test of the so-called 4th generation. It is designed to detect all known subgroups of HIV-1 and HIV-2. The detection of antibodies and p24-antigens increases the test’s reliability considerably, because the formation of antibodies often takes several weeks following infection. In contrast, p24-antigens can be detected after an average period of 16 to 18 days. The so-called diagnostic gap is reduced. By using our test, reliable results will be available as early as 6 weeks after potential infection. Pure antibody tests (such as the recently approved home tests) can only be used at a later point in time.
Reliability of HIV-PCR
In cases when recent HIV infection is suspected, it is suggestive to use the HIV-PCR procedure. This technique has been designed to detect HI viruses directly. This way, HIV infections can be typically detected as early as in week 3 (> day 15) after potential risk contacts. However, an HIV subtype that is very rarely seen in Germany – HIV-2 – cannot be detected with this test. Moreover, the amount of viruses in the blood is so small in some cases that HIV-PCR gives a negative result despite existing infection. Thus, we recommend having an HIV search test done 6 weeks after risk contact even in cases of negative HIV-PCR results.
For more information on Reliability of HIV testing please refer to our magazine.
Why is consultation prior to HIV testing useful?
Medical consultation provides the opportunity to ask all your questions on HIV and AIDS, respectively. It is absolutely confidential and without implying any moral reservations. Together we can analyse the actual level of risk for HIV infection. Depending on the time elapsed since the risk contact, we recommend different test procedures. We will advise you extensively with regard to this aspect. Depending on your individual lifestyle we can discuss, if additional tests for other sexually transmitted infections are useful.
Can I undergo anonymous testing for HIV?
Of course, all members of our technical staff are bound to medical confidentiality. Apart from that, the entire test procedure – from scheduling to retrieving your results – can be conducted in a completely anonymous manner. This means, without providing personal data or without documentation in the medical record.
Do you wish to make an appointment for HIV testing?
It is usually possible at short notice to make an appointment for HIV testing in one of our laboratories nearby. Often, a blood sample can be collected on the same day. You can make an appointment by telephone or online and choose between a simple blood test and a blood test with medical consultation. It is also possible to conduct the procedure in a completely anonymous manner.
How often is HIV testing recommended?
Testing is useful, when you encountered an HIV risk situation. This includes sexual intercourse without condom, when you cannot rule out that your partner has been HIV positive.
It is recommended that males having sexual intercourse with other men undergo HIV testing at least once a year, which may also include testing for other sexually transmitted infections (also see Deutsche Aidshilfe). HIV testing must be performed as part of the pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis (PrEP) before starting medication, four weeks thereafter, and then every three months.
In addition to HIV, other sexually transmitted infections are on the rise, so that additional testing for chlamydia and other pathogens may be useful. For more information please read in our magazine..