Understanding Your Results

Negative Test Results

Studies have proven that both conventional and rapid HIV tests are highly accurate when they show a positive HIV result. But a negative result may not always be accurate. It depends on when you might have been exposed to HIV, and when you took the test.

It takes time for your body to produce the antibodies an HIV test is looking for—anywhere from two weeks to six months after infection. So, if you have an HIV test with a negative result within three months of your last possible exposure to HIV, the CDC recommends that you be retested again three months after your first screening test.

A negative result is only accurate if you have not had any risks for HIV infection in the last six months—and a negative result is only good for past exposure. If you get a negative test result but continue to engage in high-risk behaviors, you are still at risk for HIV infection.

For information on risk behaviors and how HIV is transmitted, please see CDC's HIV Basics page on HIV transmission.

Next Steps

  • Learn the basics about HIV and how you can protect yourself. Then, make your commitment to staying HIV negative. Let your friends and sexual partners know your boundaries.

  • Get retested at least every six months.

  • Use condoms... or give them a second chance. Using condoms is the easiest way to protect against HIV and STDs. You can now order FREE condoms delivered directly to you!

  • Consider going on PrEP. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a powerful new HIV prevention method for people who do not have HIV. It involves taking medication that is used to treat HIV as a way to prevent getting HIV. PrEP can reduce your risk of getting HIV by more than 90%.

Positive Tests Results

If your initial HIV test results are positive, you’ll need to have a confirmatory blood test. If the confirmatory test results are also positive, you will be diagnosed as “HIV positive.”

If you are HIV positive, you’ll receive compassionate care to help you deal with the diagnosis, and learn what having HIV means for you and your health. You’ll be referred to medical care and supportive services that are available to you. You’ll also be informed about how to protect others from becoming infected.

Next Steps

  • HIVAZ.org has created a step-by-step overview to help you enter care and begin living with HIV.

  • Learn about living with HIV and how you can protect others.

  • Get medical care. In Arizona, more than 40% of people who are HIV positive are not receiving medical care. This is often because they aren’t aware of assistance programs that provide free/low-cost care and medications.

  • Share your status. If you’re sexually active, be sure that your partner(s) know that you have HIV. You’ll help them to be mindful of HIV, and show them that you’re committed to ending the HIV epidemic in Arizona.

  • Stay in care and take your meds. A person living with HIV who follows their treatment plan and is virally suppressed reduces their risk of passing HIV on to others by 90% or more.