Updated: March, 2016
a[TEST] is a fast, free and confidential rapid HIV and STI testing site for gay men, provided by those who know them best. a[TEST] is currently available in four locations across Sydney: Surry Hills, Oxford St (Darlinghurst), Newtown and Kings Cross, and you get your HIV test results in 30 minutes!
If you are showing symptoms of an STI, or have been contacted from a sexual partner regarding an STI, please contact your local sexual health clinic (details below) or a doctor. a[TEST] is a screening service and treatment for STIs is not available onsite.
If you believe that you have recently (in the last 72 hours) been exposed to HIV, please call the PEP Hotline on 1800 737 669 now.
WHAT IS a[TEST]?
a[TEST] is a fast, free and confidential rapid HIV and sexually transmissible infection (STI) testing site, for gay men and provided by those who know them best. It is run by ACON in Surry Hills, Oxford St (Darlinghurst), Newtown, Kings Cross and other pop-up locations, in partnership with local sexual health clinics.
Peer educators (gay guys) and nursing staff provide a friendly, appropriate and professional testing experience for gay men. Your entire appointment will take around 30 minutes, including getting your result for your rapid HIV test.
The rapid HIV test and the full STIs screen at a[TEST] involves a finger-prick test, a throat swab, a self-administered anal swab and urine sample and having a blood test.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you arrive for your appointment, you simply enter your confidential contact and behavioural details into our electronic kiosk. This information is used to deliver your STI results (you can choose to get your results via phone, SMS, email or regular post).
Once that is done, a peer educator (gay guy) will provide you with information on rapid HIV testing, and perform the test if you choose to proceed. While the rapid test is working, we’ll also ask you to go to the bathroom to provide a urine sample and an anal swab (to check for chlamydia and gonorrhoea). Nursing staff take some blood (to test for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C) and do a throat swab.
Then you’ll see the peer educator to get the result of your rapid test. Our peer educators and nursing staff are also able to answer questions or queries you might have about your health and we will also be able to help with a referral to other services if required.
We aim to make the appointments no longer than 30 minutes, so you can be in and out in a flash!
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE RESULTS?
There are three possible preliminary results with rapid HIV testing. Please remember that these results are only preliminary and blood will still need to be collected from your arm and sent to the laboratory for full testing and a confirmatory result.
Negative – HIV antibodies were not detected in the sample. It’s important to note that people in the ‘window period’ might also receive a negative result. The ‘window period’ is a period of up to three months after exposure in which HIV tests may not pick up on HIV antibodies.
Reactive – HIV antibodies were detected in the sample, but this result needs to be confirmed with laboratory based blood testing.
Invalid – there is a very small possibility that the rapid test may show an invalid response, which means something went wrong with the test itself. This result is not an indication of a person’s HIV status. In this situation a person will be offered a repeat rapid test.
Who is the service for?
a[TEST] is for gay men or other guys who have sex with men, regardless of HIV status.
What is a peer educator?
They are gay guys who have been trained to provide health promotion advice and perform screening tests for HIV/STIs including HIV rapid tests.
a[TEST] peer educators provide a friendly, comfortable and professional testing experience for gay men.
Peer educators have proved to be very effective at increasing the number of gay men accessing HIV and STI testing services in many different settings around the world, providing additional options to gay guys other than the traditional clinical setting.
Are there any doctors or nurses on site?
a[TEST] incorporates both peer educators and nurses into its service model. The nurse is available to answer questions about sexual health, as well as to take blood to test for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis. There are no doctors at a[TEST].
What if I have symptoms of an STI?
If you are showing symptoms of an STI, or have been contacted from a sexual partner regarding an STI, please contact your local sexual health clinic (details above) or a doctor. a[TEST] is a screening service and treatment for STIs is not available onsite.
What are the signs or symptoms of an STI?
You can acquire an STI without developing any signs or symptoms. However, when you do get symptoms, they can vary depending on the nature of the infection.
The best rule of thumb is that if you notice changes in your body, for example itching or discharge from the cock or arse, you should see a doctor or go to a sexual health clinic to get it checked out and if necessary treated.
If the symptoms are clear and obvious, doctors may choose to treat immediately rather than waiting for test results to come through, which means you recover faster.
OTHER SERVICES AVAILABLE AT a[TEST]
The highly successful S-Check service for people who use stimulants, run by St Vincent’s Hospital, is partnering with ACON to provide the service from our 414 Elizabeth St. Surry Hills premises every Thursday from 3pm-6pm.
If you or someone you know uses stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy and want to have a chat with a health care professional about how this might affect your health or wellbeing, this service is for you – and it’s easy, confidential and judgement free.
You can book in a time on the form below.
S-Check isn’t a rehab service, it is more like a visit to a GP who knows a bit more about stimulants so can give you tailored advice. Visit www.scheck.com.au for more information, or contact the team at St Vincent’s on 9361 8078 if Thursdays aren’t convenient for you. For more information on other related services provided by ACON, go to http://www.acon.org.au/lgbti-health/alcohol-and-drugs/
If there is not a time or day that suits you, or if you are showing symptoms of an STI, HIV & STI testing are also available at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre, RPA Sexual Health Centre and Clinic 180.