Most public health officials agree that knowing your HIV status is as important as what you do to prevent transmission. Current HIV tests can detect antibodies in an average of 22 days after exposure, although the molecule may not show up for as long as 80 days in some people, according to Brett Camp, associate executive director of Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center on Cedar Springs.
"If you engage in risky behavior, you probably need to check every six months," Camp says. "That will reinforce appropriate behavior and give you additional peace of mind."
For others, an annual test is recommended. He suggests picking a date, like a parent’s birthday, that will trigger a reminder that it’s time to get tested.
There are many options for those wanting to find out their status. The Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center has been doing HIV testing since 1988. Last year, they performed 1,600 tests. The procedure cost is $20 for an E.L.I.S.A. test, with results that are returned in a week. The rapid test, an Orasure blood test, has results in 30 minutes and costs $35. Free syphilis testing is also offered.
"Syph testing is free because of concerns about it showing up in gay male population and long term effects are more dire than other sexually transmitted diseases," according to Ruben Ramirez, Nelson-Tebedo’s community health programs manager.
The Dallas County Health Department offers HIV testing for $15 for an E.L.I.S.A. test with results in three to five days and $20 for a rapid test with results in an hour. Tests are also available at your doctor’s office. Cost, counseling and referral to HIV services varies with the experience of your physician in treating HIV.
WHERE AND WHEN
Nelson-Tebedo Clinic, 4012 Cedar Springs Road.
Tests are done Mondays Wednesdays, 3:30 6 p.m. and Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. Testing is free at the clinic Fridays, 5 9 p.m. Counseling accompanies test results. Walk-ins are taken but appointments are preferred. 214-393-3700.
Health and Human Services, 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, third floor, room 336, 8 a.m. 6:30 p.m. Referrals to counseling and HIV services accompanies test results. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins accepted. 214-819-2800.
Ramirez says his group also shows up at clubs occasionally, and has specific times when they offer testing at bathhouses:
Club Dallas, Tuesdays, 7 9 p.m;
Midtowne Spa, Saturdays, 10 11 p.m., 214-393-3700.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice – Body & Fitness print edition February 15, 2008