Free HIV testing centers in Harrisburg, PA can help people at risk for the virus find out if they have it and help them formulate a plan to treat it if they do. There is nothing to be afraid of. If your test results should come back positive, it is extremely important you realize that people with HIV can lead long, normal lives — provided they get the proper care and treatment. The biggest thing is to find out. At Alder Health Services, we offer walk-in HIV testing in Harrisburg in a relaxed, judgment-free environment.
Should You Get Free STD Testing in Harrisburg, PA? If So, When?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), HIV affects approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. An estimated 156,000 people have HIV without even knowing it. Even scarier, the CDC reports that 30 percent of new transmissions take place due to people with undiagnosed HIV spreading the disease.
The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13-64 receive at least one HIV test during their life. The higher your risk factor, the more likely you will need to receive HIV testing in Central Pennsylvania at least once a year. If you are a sexually active bisexual or gay man, you may need to be tested as often as every three or six months.
What Types of Free Walk-In HIV Testing in Harrisburg Are There?
There are three basic types of HIV tests. Here is some quick information on each:
- Antibody Tests — Free HIV testing centers in Harrisburg, PA typically offer antibody tests. They look for HIV antibodies in the blood, which will appear if you have been exposed to the virus. One thing to note about antibody tests, however, is that it could take anywhere from three days to three months for the body to make enough antibodies to be detected. If you test negative, you should strongly consider undergoing further walk-in HIV testing in Harrisburg in three months.
- Combination Tests — A combination test not only looks for HIV antibodies but also antigens, which are substances that can stimulate activity in the immune system. An antigen is part of a virus that can be detected after exposure to HIV but before antibodies are developed. However, it can still take about two to six weeks before enough antigens and antibodies are produced to be detected. It’s a good idea to return for further testing in three months.
- Nucleic Acid Tests — This test detects HIV in the blood, but it does not look for antibodies. Rather, it looks for the virus itself. If you have this type of free anonymous walk-in HIV testing in Harrisburg, it is important to note a nucleic acid test is normally not used unless a patient has a high risk of exposure or is showing early symptoms of a possible infection.
What Do the Results of HIV Testing in Central Pennsylvania Mean?
If you receive a negative result after your walk in HIV testing in Harrisburg, that does not necessarily mean you do not have the virus. Again, the window of time between contracting HIV and testing positive for it can be up to three months. The amount of time will vary depending on the type of test and the person being tested. The only way to ensure you do not have HIV is to schedule another test three months later.
If your test result is positive, free HIV testing centers in Harrisburg, PA will schedule a follow-up test to confirm the results. If that test is also positive, then your doctor will recommend an immediate course of action in order to best treat the virus. We cannot overstate the fact that even if you do test positive, treatment advances have helped many, many people live lives just as long and fulfilling as those who never contract HIV.
FAQ’s for STD/HIV Testing at Alder Health Services
- How old do I have to be in order to get tested?
- The age of consent is 14 years old. Information is confidential to all individuals being tested, unless stated otherwise by that person. Parental consent must accompany someone under age 14.
- What STD’s do you test for? What STD’s can you treat?
- We test for Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV. We treat for Syphilis, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
- How do I get my results? Can I get a paper copy?
- Your results will generally be given by a phone call. No news is good news! You will only receive a phone call if there are significant results or if the tests we tried to run were unable to be conducted with the samples collected. If there is no answer a discreet message will be left by Alder Health for the person we are contacting, with information to call back: no personal information will be left on the voicemail detailing the nature of the call.
- Paper copies of results can be given upon request. A disclosure agreement must be completed and signed to receive them.
- When can I come in to get tested?
- Our free walk-in testing is done on Wednesday nights from 4pm-8pm. No appointment is needed.
- How long does it generally take?
- The length of the process depends on how many people we are seeing, so it is often hard to say. It also varies based on each individual person and their needs at the time.
- Can I get tested anonymously? Or do I have to give my name/information?
- Our testing is confidential, meaning the results will not be shared without your consent: however, in order to contact you with results, we will need some basic information, including your phone number.
- When will I get the results?
- The results generally come in from the laboratory within 7-14 days.
- Do I need to bring anything like an ID or Insurance Card?
- No ID or Insurance information is needed to conduct our tests.
- How much does it cost?
- The services we offer during our testing nights are free.
- Can I come in and get treated the same day if I’m symptomatic? What if my partner is symptomatic/has tested positive for an STD?
- If a physician is present, they may be able to treat you presumptively (meaning before the results come back from the laboratory) if you are symptomatic or have a symptomatic partner. However, physicians do not generally staff the clinic and may not be available.
- Can I make an appointment?
- Our clinic is walk-in only. We do not take appointments.
- What type of tests do you conduct?
- We conduct a urine test and a blood test. Other tests may be available based on the provider’s discretion.
- Do you draw blood?
- We draw blood in order to conduct our HIV and Syphilis testing.
- Do you have a Rapid HIV test? How do I get that test?
- We do offer a rapid HIV test to those who fall into a higher risk category and are more likely to be infected with HIV. That test may be available based on the provider’s discretion.
- Can you help me tell my partner(s) if my results come back reactive (positive)?
- We are able to offer assistance in contacting the partner(s) of individuals we see.
- Can you provide education and information regarding the STD’s you test for?
- We can provide education and information verbally as well as written information regarding any STD that we test for.
HIV Testing Services Offered at Alder Health
Alder Health Services offers free confidential and anonymous walk in HIV testing in Harrisburg, primarily focusing on individuals at a high risk for contracting the virus. We also offer several HIV testing day events in Harrisburg, PA per month to accommodate your schedule. If you would like to learn more, contact Alder Health Services online or give us a call at (717) 233-7190.