Tarrant County Public Health Main Campus
1101 South Main Street, #15A, Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Monday - Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
Tarrant County Public Health Center
2596 E. Arkansas Lane, Arlington, Texas 76014
WALK-IN OPTION FRIDAY 9 a.m - Noon
HIV Testing Information
Unlike most diseases, you can have HIV for years without experiencing any symptoms and spread it to others without knowing it until it’s too late.
In fact, as many as one in severn people infected with HIV don’t know it because they haven’t been tested.
That’s why it’s so important to get HIV testing done at least once a year, especially if you have:
Our Adult Health Services clinics offer syphilis and HIV testing at two locations in Tarrant County. Testing and counseling sessions take approximately 30 minutes but can vary depending on your risk factors as well as the results of your test(s).
Anonymous HIV testing is also available.
Please call 817-321-4800 with any questions regarding testing procedures and availability.
How does HIV testing work?
When you come in for an HIV test, a counselor will sit down with you to ask you some questions and determine what type of testing best fits your needs. From there, the counselor take a sample of blood from your arm to be tested in a laboratory.
Types of HIV testing fall into two main categories:
Rapid HIV testing
Rapid testing ("Insti Test" - used at Outreach/Community testing event ONLY) is performed using a small sample of blood (usually from a finger prick) to check for the presence of antibodies to the virus.
As its name would suggest, it offers the fastest results, typically within 60 seconds.
However, because rapid tests only work when HIV antibodies are present, they aren’t always reliable for HIV early detection testing (within 2-12 weeks after exposure). Additionally, a positive reaction on a rapid HIV test should be followed up with a lab test to confirm the results.
Laboratory HIV testing
Lab testing uses blood drawn from your arm. There are different types of blood testing for HIV. One looks for the HIV antibodies and antigens (Standard Combination Test). Antigens are proteins that develop in the first few weeks after HIV infection. Other test looks for the genetic material from the HIV virus (RNA Test).
The most common form of lab testing uses a Combination Test that looks for HIV antibodies and/or antigens in your blood. If antibodies are detected, an HIV Differentiation Assay may be performed to determine which type of HIV is present (HIV-1 or HIV-2).
In cases where someone tests positive in an antibody test, or if they were only recently exposed and may not have antibodies present yet (2-12 weeks after exposure), a Nucleic Acid Test may be performed to check for the genetic material (RNA) of the HIV virus in your blood.
How accurate is HIV testing?
Rapid testing is very reliable in people who have longstanding infections, but it may be unable to detect HIV infection in someone who was recently exposed to the virus.
Laboratory testing that looks for antibodies/antigens or RNA is extremely reliable (99-100% accurate) at detecting HIV infections, even in those who were recently infected. Still, any positive test result needs to be confirmed with at least one additional lab test.
How long does HIV testing take?
HIV testing and counseling sessions usually take about 30 minutes but may vary depending on the types of testing performed and the results of your test(s).
How long does it take to get the results from an HIV test?
Most test results are available within one week. However, times vary depending on the specific type of test(s) being performed, if you are being tested for other STDs, and other factors.
Your testing counselor will discuss the timeframe to expect your specific HIV and syphilis test results with you during your visit. Most results are delivered by phone.
Will my HIV testing information be shared with anyone else?
All of the services and any information regarding your HIV testing follows federal HIPAA laws and is gathered and maintained in a secure and confidential manner.
Test results can only be given to the patient. They cannot be given over the phone to friends or family members. Records are only released with the client's written consent.
How much does HIV testing cost?
The HIV and STD Outreach and Prevention team offers free HIV and STD testing.
Tarrant County Adult Health Services provides HIV testing at little or no cost depending on your financial status, and individual charges and fees vary. Some services may be covered by insurance.
Cost of testing typically depends on the specific test(s) performed, and our clinic fees are determined according to a sliding scale based on client income. We do accept Medicaid.
For more information on HIV/AIDS, including treatment and prevention options offered through Tarrant County Public Health’s Adult Health Services, please visit: HIV & AIDS Information and Education
To learn more about comprehensive STD screening that includes testing for HIV and syphilis, visit: Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs/HIV) .
County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111
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