HIV test

Anonymous and absolutely reliable.

HIV test – anonymous & reliable

Do you want to know, whether you have been infected with HIV? This question may arise for various reasons: after unprotected sexual intercourse, after contact with body fluids of HIV-infected persons or simply for peace of mind.

We offer HIV tests – with completely anonymous processing, if requested.

Benefits at a glance:

  • Blood sampling is usually possible on the same day – including medical consultation, if requested
  • Conducting an HIV-PCR may exclude infection as early as after 2 weeks (beyond day 15) with a very high level of confidence. Definite results can be achieved as early as 6 weeks after a suspected infection by means of an HIV search test
  • Higher reliability and much earlier exclusion of HIV infection following risky contacts when compared to commercial quick tests and self-tests
  • Reliable laboratory results typically available online or by phone within a few hours
  • Anonymous procedure, if requested, i.e. without providing personal data or without documentation in the medical record

When is HIV testing recommended?

HIV testing may be useful in various situations.

For example, if you have found a new partner and wish to have unprotected sexual intercourse without using condoms, both partners should clarify, whether they have been infected with HIV or any other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Furthermore, it is important to clarify your HIV status during pregnancy, because the HI virus may be transmitted from the mother to the child both during pregnancy and delivery. HIV testing is also advisable after so-called risk contacts. This particularly includes unprotected sexual intercourse with partners whose HIV status is unknown. Moreover, there is a risk of infection, when open wounds or mucous membranes get in contact with body fluids of HIV-infected persons.

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 5th generation HIV testing

We use a highly sensitive HIV search test, which is a combined antibody antigen test of the so-called 5th 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..

Since symptoms of HIV infection are difficult to detect, HIV testing provides the only option for clarification. An early initiation of HIV therapy is important. It is the only way to prevent degradation of the immune system and to protect other persons from possible infection. If left untreated, HIV infection progresses in four phases, which can have different lengths, depending on the individual patient.

Early infection

Approximately 1 to 6 weeks after the infection, symptoms may occur, which resemble those of a common cold. Potential symptoms include:

• tiredness
• pain in the head and limbs
• fever
• rash
• swelling of lymph nodes

However, some patients initially experience no symptoms at all or symptoms so mild that they are considered unimportant.

Asymptomatic HIV infection

While immune cells are being destroyed during this phase, many patients feel healthy and, thus, do not realise that they are infected. This phase without symptoms may extend over many years. Nonetheless, unspecific symptoms may occur:

• tiredness
• swelling of lymph nodes
• blood count changes

Symptomatic HIV infection

The immune system has now been clearly weakened by the increased destruction of defence cells. The body is no longer able to adequately defend itself against pathogens. A variety of conditions may be experienced:

• fever attacks
• chronic diarrhoea
• shingles
• fungal infections of mouth or genital region
• swelling of lymph nodes
• reduced amount of platelets

A sample is simply collected by means of drawing blood (from a vein).

We provide medical consultation, if requested. We will discuss in an absolutely confidential manner and without implying any moral reservations, whether an HIV infection is suspected and which test procedure suits your individual situation. If you wish, we can conduct testing in an anonymous manner. Regardless of their results, none of the HIV tests that we conduct will be documented in your medical record.

Each positive HIV search test (reactive test result) will be automatically verified using a different test procedure – the so-called immunoblot. You will receive your reliable results only after that test has been completed.

And even more important: You are not alone with your result – our physicians will provide counselling in a confidential and competent manner.

We take our time for you to advise you in a one-to-one conversation without moral reservations. We take medical confidentiality very seriously during each of these steps.

In case your test result is positive (i.e. when receiving confirmed HIV diagnosis), it is absolutely necessary for you to consult a medical expert thereafter. We can also provide support with this.

The cost will be charged in accordance with the medical fee schedule (Gebührenordnung für Ärzte; GOÄ).

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