Adelaide’s first rapid HIV testing service has arrived. SHINE SA's Rapido service offers a free, less confronting testing experience for gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), and trans and gender diverse people. Our model of service is a ‘peer’ model – the guys doing the rapid testing are not doctors or nurses, they are the same as you. With a simple finger-prick test, you will find out your result in just 20 minutes.
We use the Alere HIV Combo test which is a visually read test that detects HIV 1/2 antibodies and HIV p24 antigens, with a result that is 99.8% accurate.
We recommend testing every three months or six weeks after a high risk exposure – that way, it becomes a routine and it’s one of the ways you can look after yourself, and your sexual partners.
Like traditional lab based tests, rapid tests have a window period. The window period is the period between exposure to the HIV virus and the appearance of antibodies and antigens in your blood. Antigens can be detected 14-15 days after infection (Acute infection), Antigen and antibodies can be detected 21-28 days after infection (early infection), and only antibodies will be detected after 28 days (established infection).
If you have had a very recent exposure to HIV, the rapid test will not detect an infection. Some people take longer to produce enough antibodies to be detected on the test (up to 6 weeks) so we recommend testing again 6 months after your last high risk exposure.
If you have made an appointment, please arrive 5-10 minutes before your appointment time, so that you can complete a registration form (for your first visit only). Your peer tester will provide you with information on rapid HIV testing at Rapido, and then perform the test. While the rapid test is working, your peer tester will talk with you about your risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and you will be given the opportunity to have a full STI screening with a sexual health nurse. Rapido will also offer free Hepatitis B vaccinations.
Our peer testers are all gay or bisexual men. They are not doctors or nurses, but they have all been extensively trained to perform these tests. Our staff are able to answer any questions you might have about your sexual health in a non-judgemental fashion. We will also be able to help with referral to other services if required.
There are three possible results from a rapid HIV test:
• Non-reactive – HIV antibodies and p24 antigens were not detected in the blood sample. It’s important to note that if you have had a risk in the “window period” you should re-test again in 6 weeks.
• Antibody Reactive – This result is highly likely to indicate the presence of HIV antibodies in your blood. This result is preliminary and needs to be confirmed with a blood test from a vein in your arm which is sent to the lab. This is because, there is a chance of a false which occurs very rarely. The laboratory results will be available 24-48 hours.
• Antigen Reactive – This result is highly likely to indicate the presence of the HIV antigen in your blood. This result is preliminary and needs to be confirmed with a blood test from a vein in your arm which is sent to the lab. This is because, there is a chance of a false which occurs very rarely. The laboratory results will be available 24-48 hours.
• “Invalid” – there is a possibility that the rapid test may not work, this is usually due to a manufacturing fault. In this situation you will be offered a repeat rapid test if time permits, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Rapido! is located at 57 Hyde Street, in the Adelaide city centre. Rapid HIV testing is offered on Mondays between 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm.
You can ring us on (08) 7099 5300 to make an appointment in advance, or you can just walk in during our opening times and wait for the first available test facilitator.
A ‘non-reactive’ result means you are HIV-negative up to 6 weeks ago. To have a clear picture about your HIV status, you need to test regularly, always taking into account the window period. We recommend routine testing every 3 months.
If you’ve had a risk of HIV exposure in the last 72 hours, you may need PEP. For more information about PEP, see our PEP page.
A sexual health nurse can carry out other STI tests while you are at Rapido for your rapid HIV test. Your STI test results will be available within a few days depending on lab capacity.
For more information about STIs and their symptoms, have a look at these websites:
The Drama Downunder – Australian Sexual health information and advice
GETPEP – PEP may prevent the infection of HIV if taken within 72 hours of exposure, visit GetPEP to find out where you can get PEP in South Australia!
SHINE SA - South Australian Sexual health education and support
If you have more questions about your risk for HIV or your sexual health, please contact the SHINE SA Sexual Healthline on 1300 883 793 or the SAMESH team on (08) 7099 5300.