HIV Testing

If you believe you may be at risk for HIV disease the most important action you can take is to get an HIV test.  Knowing your HIV status – whether you are, or are not infected with HIV – empowers you to make decisions so you can live a long healthy life.

ARCW provides free HIV testing at many convenient locations throughout Wisconsin. It is an easy test to take. A simple finger stick that is quick and relatively painless will provide you with test results in twenty minutes.

Your HIV test will be administered by a specialist from ARCW who will explain the test and ask for your written consent to be tested. The tester will also provide you with information on how to reduce your risk for HIV infection and will answer all your questions with sensitivity to your concerns.

You will have the choice of getting an anonymous HIV test or a confidential HIV test.

  • Anonymous HIV test
    • An anonymous HIV test does not require you to provide your name or other personal identifiable information. A number or an alternative identifier will be used to track your HIV test.  Your personal identity will not be disclosed for the HIV test.
    • However, if your HIV test comes back positive, you will be required to provide your name and information in order to access a medical evaluation and other services.
  • Confidential HIV test
    • A confidential HIV test requires that you provide your name and other personal identifying information for purposes of tracking your HIV test.  Your personal identity will be disclosed for the HIV test.
    • Confidential testing has several benefits:
      • You will receive a copy of your test results with your name on it.  This way, you can share your results with your partner(s).
      • If you test positive, you will be quickly linked to care and other services

      A confidential test means that your results are kept confidential.  No one else will have access to your results besides the person who you are testing with and the state health department.  Only you decide who knows your HIV results.

You will receive your HIV test results during your testing appointment. The HIV specialist will explain your results and answer any questions you may have. Your test results will be either HIV negative or HIV reactive.

  • HIV negative
    • If your test is HIV negative it means that no antibodies to HIV were detected in your body.  However, it can take up to three months after you may have been exposed to HIV for your body to produce enough antibodies to be detected by the test. If you have not had an HIV risk activity in the past three months you are considered to be HIV negative with no HIV infection. If you have had an HIV risk activity within the past three months we recommend that you return for another HIV test three months following your most recent risk activity to confirm your HIV negative status.
  • HIV reactive
    • If your test is HIV reactive it means that HIV antibodies have been detected in your body. A confirmatory HIV test is then required to double check whether HIV antibodies are present. This is done through a blood draw that is processed at a medical laboratory.  If the results of this confirmatory test are positive for HIV antibodies then you will have a diagnosis of HIV infection.

Not knowing your HIV status may have major consequences for your health. If you are HIV infected, not knowing this fact means your treatment for HIV is delayed which may result in severe illness. Knowing your status means that you can take action to get the immediate medical care you need for successful treatment and a long healthy life.  You will also be better able to take precautions to protect your loved ones and partners from HIV.

If you are not infected with HIV, knowing this fact means that you have been tested for HIV and have received expert counseling on how HIV is transmitted and how to reduce your risk for HIV infection.  Not being tested for HIV means that you may not understand this life saving HIV risk reduction information.

ARCW provides more than 2,000 free HIV tests every year at all ARCW facilities throughout Wisconsin and through all ARCW prevention programs and outreach locations.

To schedule a test contact the nearest ARCW office.

Patient Testimonials

"I wanted the best health care, even though I don’t have private insurance,” James said. “I thought I had to drive a long way to get it.”

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