There are many ways to get support when you are self-testing. You might want to tell a friend and have them with you when you do the test. Or, if you are in a relationship with a partner who knows his or her status, you may well want to do the test with them. Alternatively you could phone a helpline or see a counsellor.
Check out the resources in our HIV care near you section. Whatever you do, we recommend you tell someone you are doing the test and our top recommendation is to have a counselling session set up for after you do your test.
Remember, you MUST get any positive test confirmed with a blood test provided by a trained professional. All HIV tests need a second test to confirm the results, as they are not 100% reliable.
What if you test HIV positive?
This is a screening test. If your test is reactive, you must have a confirmatory test: either use a second and different HIV rapid test (4th generation) or have an Elisa test at a laboratory. All HIV tests need a further test to confirm the first result.
Thanks to ARVs, HIV is a chronic manageable condition like diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension). With effect from 1st September 2016 all HIV confirmed patients will start on lifelong ART, this applies to: All HIV positive children, adolescents and adults regardless of CD4 count will be offered ART treatment, prioritizing those with CD4 ≤ 350. Get informed. Plan your future. Speak to your health worker.
Here are a few more steps that may help you plan your life, now that you have tested positive.
Go on with your life: stay as busy and healthy as possible.
Make a plan to get the best care and treatment possible.
Learn all you can about HIV and the best treatment you can get: this will give you more confidence.
You can use the Recomed website to make an appointment with a private Doctor online.
You probably have a thousand questions about HIV. Speak to your health care worker and find out everything you are not clear about.
For example, you may have questions about passing HIV on to your family or partner. Remember, you will not pass on HIV by means of casual contact in a household such as kissing, bathing or sharing food appliances. Questions about disclosing your status to your partner or family can be addressed by your nurse, doctor or counsellor.
You can also find good information at the HIV i-Base website.
Ask for help and support from friends: they are often the best people to give you support because they know and understand you.
Getting support from peers (people like yourself) in a support group can help you get through a difficult time. They have faced the same issues you are facing now and can provide support and guidance.
Live as healthily as possible!
Eat good, nutritious food and get regular exercise.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and do not smoke.
Consider getting tested for TB: TB is one of the most common infections for people living with HIV and can be fatal. Early detection and treatment make it easier to cure.
Make sure you monitor your CD4 count regularly and start antiretroviral treatment (ART) as soon as you need it.
Your right to confidentiality
You have a right to confidentiality: it is the law. Clinics are not allowed to discriminate against you. Nor will this self-testing service we are offering.
References: In our lives: Information for people living with HIV/Aids, their support groups and clinics. Published by Treatment Action Campaign, December 2013; I’ve tested positive, now what? Published by Community Media Trust.
If you want to talk to someone straight away, call:
National AIDS Helpline
0800 012 322
More details on specific helplines follow below.
What if you test HIV negative?
Believe you can stay negative. Protect yourself. Protect others. Make a plan to reduce your risk of HIV.
Use a condom every time you have sex – even if you are circumcised.
Ask your clinic about female condoms (femidoms).
If you are a man, think about being circumcised. Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) reduces a man’s risk of getting HIV by up to 60%.
Read more about circumcision on the Brothers for Life website.
Reduce your number of sexual partners.
People you can talk to
National AIDS Helpline
0800 012 322
24 hours a day, 365 days a year
The AIDS helpline is operated by Lifeline South Africa and responds to an average of 3500 calls per month. IsiZulu and English are the most common languages spoken by callers and the majority are between the ages of 20-29 years. The main reasons people call the helpline are to talk about how people get HIV, HIV testing and ARV treatment.
You could also call Lifeline itself on 0800 322 322: also 24 hours a day.
National HIV Health Care Workers Hotline
0800 212 506
Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am – 4.30pm
You can ask about HIV testing; post-exposure prophylaxis for health care workers and sexual assault victims; management of HIV in pregnancy and prevention of mother-to-child transmission; antiretroviral therapy; recommendations for laboratory and clinical monitoring; drug interactions and availability; treatment and prophylaxis of opportunistic infections; adherence support and management of tuberculosis. See more at www.napwasa.org
0800 60 60 60
24 hours a day
The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) is South Africa’s leading sex worker human rights organisation. SWEAT’s services include providing safer sex education, crisis counselling, legal advice and skills training for sex workers. In addition, SWEAT leads on advocating for the advancement of sex workers' human rights through law reform for the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. You can also call the National Head office on 021 448 7875 between 9am and 5pm or leave a Pls Call Me, SMS or What’s App message on 071 357 7632.
Triangle Project LGBTI Helpline
021 712 6699
Daily 1pm to 9pm
Triangle Project is a non-profit human rights organisation offering professional services to ensure the full realisation of constitutional and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons, their partners and families. Their three core services centre around Health & Support, Community Engagement & Empowerment and Research and Advocacy. Triangle Project offers a wide range of services to the LGBTI community. These include a variety of health services, such as sexual health clinics, counselling, support groups and a helpline, public education and training services, community outreach and safe spaces, and facilities such as the Drop-In Centre and a library. Their office number is 021 686 4195: 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Health4Men can refer men who have sex with men, gay and bisexual men to the following HIV-related services: testing, monitoring, management and counselling. If you do test positive, you can also expect to receive CD4 testing and counselling. Free antiretroviral treatment therapy and monitoring, based on your CD4 count and other medical factors, is also available.