Questions about HIV testing
Getting tested for HIV can be a scary process for many Singaporeans. What are the possible implications of getting tested positive? How sympathetic can local doctors be towards patients who have sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? Do you have to use a needle to draw blood? And what if you have a fear of needles? This short FAQ will help guide you through the HIV testing process in STD clinics, and answer the common questions received by doctors and clinic staff every day.
What happens when I am in the STD clinic?
When you get to the clinic, you’ll have to register with your personal particulars. However, please be rest assured that results from tests taken at private clinics will not be disseminated into public hospitals, unless there is a requirement to do so. The reception counter is a good place to ask questions that you may have about the testing procedures.
How are the doctors like in an STD clinic?
Once done, you will proceed to have a consultation with the STD doctor. They will likely be the most well-read expert on STDs that you will ever meet. Most STD doctors have received patients from a variety of backgrounds, including LGBTQ+ patients and sex workers, and they have heard many stories of sexual encounters. Please do be honest and candid with these doctors about your sexual experience, so as to best facilitate the diagnosis and testing procedure. Be rest assured that doctors will not judge you based on your sexual history.
So what are the testing procedures?
For the test, blood will need to be drawn. Depending on the test available at the clinic, the doctor may draw a full syringe of blood, or prick your finger and drop a small blood sample into a test kit. Most STD clinics will use the former one, as it provides the most reliable test results, though it takes a much longer time.
If you have a fear of needles or should not have foreign objects inserted into your body due to a medical condition, your doctor may instead recommend an oral swab instead. An oral swab is a great alternative, though it’s less accurate than the blood test.
How long will I have to wait for the results, and what should I do then?
You will sit outside the consultation room and wait approximately half an hour for the result. Meanwhile, STD clinics have taken to making sure you feel comfortable – feel free to flip through a magazine from a nearby shelf, or simply sit around a surf social media. At this period, no one should disturb you, and an STD clinic’s staff is trained to handle any harassment should unfortunate encounters happen with other patients. A safe environment is essential to the conduct of an STD clinic, so please be assured and relax while waiting for your results.
When receiving the results, your doctor will be frank and upright. If the test results are positive, you should return in a month to do a test to confirm your status. Doctors are trained to answer all your questions, and help you get through the news.
Some STD clinics perform more extensive lab tests, which means results may come only in a few days. In this case, you may leave the clinic after paying for the test and consultation.