Sharing Your Test Result
If you take an anonymous test, no one but you will know the result. If you take a confidential test, your test result will be part of your medical record and it is protected by state and federal privacy laws.
Anonymous testing means that nothing ties your test results to you. When you take an anonymous HIV test, you get a unique identifier that allows you to get your test results. You can also purchase a self-test if you want to test anonymously.
Confidential testing means that your name and other identifying information will be attached to your test results. The results will go in your medical record and may be shared with your health care providers and your health insurance company. Otherwise, the results are protected by state and federal privacy laws, and they can be released only with your permission.
With confidential testing, if you test positive for HIV, the test result and your name will be reported to the state or local health department to help public health officials get better estimates of the rates of HIV in the state. The state health department will then remove all personal information about you (name, address, etc.) and share the remaining non-identifying information with CDC. CDC does not share this information with anyone else, including insurance companies.
For more information, see HIV.gov’s questions about civil rights, legal disclosure, insurance, and the workplaceexternal icon.
It’s important to share your status with your sex or needle-sharing partners. Whether you disclose your status to others is your decision.
It’s important to disclose your HIV status to your sex or needle-sharing partners even if you’re uncomfortable doing so. Communicating with each other about your HIV status means you can take steps to keep both of you healthy. The more practice you have disclosing your HIV status, the easier it will become.
Gwenn and her boyfriend Shawn, who has HIV, tell us about the importance of HIV testing in their relationship, and why they are #DoingIt.
Family and Friends
In most cases, your family and friends will not know your test results or HIV status unless you tell them yourself. While telling your family that you have HIV may seem hard, you should know that disclosure has many benefits—telling friends and family can provide an important source of support in managing your HIV. And studies have shown that people who disclose their HIV status respond better to treatment than those who don’t.
In most cases, your employer will not know your HIV status unless you tell them. But your employer does have a right to ask if you have any health conditions that would affect your ability to do your job or pose a serious risk to others. (An example might be a health care professional, like a surgeon, who does procedures where there is a risk of blood or other body fluids being exchanged.)
If you have health insurance through your employer, the insurance company cannot legally tell your employer that you have HIV. But it is possible that your employer could find out if the insurance company provides detailed information to your employer about the benefits it pays or the costs of insurance.
All people with HIV are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your HIV status as long as you can do your job. To learn more, see the Department of Justice’s websiteexternal icon.
Learn more about telling others.