Guide to Australian HIV Laws and Policies for Healthcare Professionals

Conveying test results

The process of conveying an HIV test result to the person being tested is affected by the type of test performed, the setting of the consultation and testing and the extent if any of additional testing to determine the true HIV status of the person.

The window period will be determined by the type of test used – more advanced HIV tests can detect infection sooner than others. It is essential to check the type of HIV test used. If the practitioner does not know which test has been used and therefore how soon after infection it can detect infection, then a window period of three months should be used.

The way in which test results are conveyed should take account of the patient’s level of knowledge and capacity to deal with the test results. Occasionally, patients may be unconvinced by a positive or a negative test result. Assistance in dealing with such cases is available from specialist services (contact your local sexual health service, HIV specialist service, community peer-based organisation or ASHM). Counselling may be required by some individuals and should be provided.