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Frequently Asked Questions

HIV Testing

What are the risk factors for HIV?

If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, the test was more than one year ago, and you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you should get an HIV test as soon as possible:

  • Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with a partner who has HIV?
  • Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
  • Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
  • Are you a person on testosterone that has had sex since your last HIV test?
  • Have you injected drugs and shared needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment (for example, cookers) with others?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for another sexually transmitted disease?

You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).

If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.

Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, share your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results.

How do I know if I should be tested?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once. People at higher risk should get tested more often. See the question “What are the risk factors for HIV?” to learn if you are at higher risk for HIV.

What kind of HIV testing do you use?

Caracole uses Oraquick and INSTI antibody testing.

How do you test for HIV?

We use a simple finger stick blood sample to test for HIV.

What is the difference between confidential and anonymous testing?

Confidential testing means you supply our testing counselor with your name. (If you receive a test for HCV or receive a test in Kentucky, your name is required.)

Anonymous testing means that your name is not used and results will be given verbally. Anonymous testing is only offered for HIV testing in Ohio. 

If you test positive for HIV in Ohio, your name is required for a second confirmatory test.

Who will all see my information?

Caracole follows HIPAA regulations and adheres to all public health reporting requirements. Those who test reactive, are reported to the local health jurisdiction per Ohio law. With written consent, you may also grant Caracole permission to share your information with others, such as your HIV treatment team. 

What should I bring with me to my appointment?

Nothing is required to receive a test, but please bring a state-issued identification card (ID) if you would like a written confirmation of your negative status.

Am I allowed to have friends / family in the testing room with me?

No, Caracole does not allow anyone in the testing room (other than children under the age of 13) during testing and when results are given. However, friends or family may wait in our lobby. 

How old do you have to be to get tested?

Caracole can test anyone 13 years or older, without parental consent.

How long will it take for the results to come back?

HIV and Hepatitis C antibody testing takes up to 20 minutes for test results to come back.

What if I test positive for HIV?

If your HIV test result is reactive, which means positive (+), on our initial test, our counselor will perform a second rapid test. If this test is reactive as well, you are HIV positive. and your tester can help schedule you an appointment with the Infectious Disease Center to get additional lab work performed. If you test positive, Caracole can:

  • Explain HIV/AIDS—what your test results mean, what kind of treatment is available and how to access it, etc.
  • Help you access benefits and medication, if you qualify
  • Provide a safe, non-judgmental, confidential environment
  • Help you set up a medical appointment with a physician who specializes in HIV care and provide any referrals to additional services you may need.
How long after a recent exposure to HIV, should I get tested?

Caracole recommends that you wait at least 14 days after your exposure to get a baseline test. However, it can take three months for HIV antibodies to develop in your system. If your exposure has been less than 72 hours, you can also go to an emergency room to take PEP medication.

What does a hepatitis C (HCV) reactive / non-reactive result indicate?

If your hepatitis C (HCV) test result is reactive, which means positive, this indicates that you have been exposed to HCV at some point in your life. This does NOT necessarily indicate you have acute or chronic HCV infection. If you receive a reactive HCV test from Caracole, you should seek out additional testing from a medical provider to confirm the status of your HCV infection. A non-reactive result, which means negative, indicates that you have not been exposed to HCV.

Where can I get FREE condoms?

Condoms and safer sex kits are available for FREE at our Northside office:

4138 Hamilton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223

Additional local locations that offer FREE condoms:

Also, ask us about internal condoms! This type of condom is worn inside the vagina or anus and provides the same kind of protection from HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancy that external condoms provide. Learn more by reading our Condom Use Tips article!

Do you offer STI testing?

Caracole offers FREE confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing. For other STI testing, download our STI testing guide, which lists STI testing locations across Greater Cincinnati.

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