Boston HIV Adolescent Provider and Peer Education Network for Services (HAPPENS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is HIV Rapid Testing?

HIV Rapid Testing is a method of screening for HIV quickly so that you can get your HIV results the same day you're tested.


How is rapid testing done?

At Boston HAPPENS, Rapid Testing is done by the finger-prick method using an Oraquick Advance test kit, where the finger is pricked with a very small needle, and a drop of blood is used to run the test on site.


Does it hurt?

Maybe a little bit, but only for a brief period. Punctures from a finger prick often stop hurting after a few minutes, and usually heal within a few hours. Many people who have been tested say that it doesn't hurt nearly as much as they thought it would.


How quickly can you I get results?

Results are ready in 20 minutes.


What happens if my results come back positive for HIV?

If your HIV test result comes back "reactive" it is considered a preliminary positive result. That means that we would want to take a larger blood sample so further testing can be done to confirm the result from original test. No matter what method of testing you choose, if your test comes back "reactive" or "positive" for HIV, we always run a confirmatory test to be certain that the result is accurate.


Is the Rapid Test accurate?

The Rapid Test is very sensitive, which means that there is a small chance a "reactive" result is false. This is why every "reactive" or "positive" result is followed up with a blood test to verify the results. A negative result is always accurate, unless you have been exposed to HIV within the last 6 weeks.

If you have been exposed to HIV in the last 6 weeks, it's too soon to test. You should wait 6 weeks from the last possible exposure* before getting an HIV test.

Possible exposures include:

  • Unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex

  • Sharing needles or "works"

  • When a condom breaks or slips off during sex

  • Sexual assault

  • Sharing sex toys

  • Contact with another person's blood

How is it different from other kinds of HIV testing that you offer?

The main difference is that Rapid Testing lets you get your HIV results the same day. We also offer HIV testing by blood or oral fluid, but those results take two weeks for the results to come back.

If you're not ready to receive your results the same day you get tested, you may want to consider these other methods of testing. Also, if you have a fear of needles or don't like the sight of blood, oral testing for HIV might be a good option for you because it doesn't involve any blood or needles. Keep in mind that if a "reactive" or "positive" result occurs from any of these testing methods, we would need to confirm the test using a blood sample.


Have more questions?

Send your questions to Boston HAPPENS and we will get back to you within 3 days.
For testing hours and directions, see our "HIV Counseling and Testing" page. 

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If this is a medical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. This form should not be used in an emergency.

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This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

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If you have questions or would like more information, please call:

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