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.
Rapid tests detect antibodies which are present if you have an HIV infection. At Rapido, we use the Trinity Biotech Uni-Gold Rapid HIV test to screen for HIV antibodies. The Uni-Gold test device is extremely accurate - over 99% accurate.
We recommend testing every three months – that way, it becomes a routine and it’s one of the ways you can look after yourself, and others.
Like 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 in your blood (your immune system’s response). Most people will produce sufficient antibodies to HIV to be detected by a rapid test within six weeks after exposure to the virus. So 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 3 months) so we recommend testing again 3 months after your last risk.
If you have made an appointment, please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time, so that you can complete a registration form (for your first visit only). Then take a seat and complete a questionnaire until your peer tester collects you. 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 assist with referrals to any other services you might need including the SAMESH counselling service. You’ll get the result of your rapid HIV test after ten minutes. You will be given the opportunity to have a confirmatory HIV blood test and screening for sexually transmitted infections with a sexual health nurse while you’re there, if you wish to. 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 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 3 months.
• “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, very occasionally – about one in two hundred tests - the reactive result is false. The laboratory results will be available within a week.
• “Invalid” – there is a possibility that the rapid test may not work. 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 and Fridays between 4.00 pm and 7.00 pm.
You can ring us on 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.
The rapid HIV test is very sensitive and, very occasionally, the test reacts when there are no HIV antibodies present. This is known as a ‘false positive.’ This is why, with all reactive rapid HIV test results, we always do a standard blood test and send it to the lab for confirmation.
A ‘non-reactive’ result means you are HIV-negative up to three months 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 (medication to stop HIV taking hold in your body) and you should call the PEP Hotline immediately on 1800 022 226.
The PEP hotline is an excellent service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Experienced sexual health/HIV nurses can talk to you about a recent risk and let you know where to get PEP medication, if they think it is appropriate. PEP is very effective at preventing HIV infection taking hold in the body after an exposure, but you need to get to it quickly - the sooner the better.
A sexual health nurse can carry out other STI tests while you are at Rapido for your rapid HIV test – easy! Your STI test results will be available within a week 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.