HIV Testing

HIV Test

Lowcountry AIDS Services offers free, confidential HIV/STD testing at our North Charleston office, 3547 Meeting Street Road.

HIV results can be delivered in 20 minutes.

Testing hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. No appointment necessary.

While you’re in the office, ask for safer sex kits with free condoms and information about how to protect yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions about HIV Testing at LAS

Where are you located?
Our office is located at 3547 Meeting Street Road, North Charleston, SC 29405. We are located just steps from the CARTA bus line about a quarter mile from the intersection of Dorchester Road and Meeting Street Road.

What testing is offered at your office?
At LAS, we offer free, rapid HIV testing as well as screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis (syphilis testing offered for gay men only). At this time, we do not test for herpes or genital warts.

How much does testing cost?
Nothing! LAS offers all our HIV and STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing completely free of charge.

When are your testing hours?
Our regular testing hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment needed, we take individuals on a walk-in basis in the order they arrive. Please be advised that lunchtime is usually the busiest time of the day for testing, so if possible, try to come either before or after lunch.

I can’t make it there during regular testing hours, what should I do?
Give us a call at 843-747-2273 and ask to speak with a member of the prevention team. Depending on the situation, we may be able to make arrangements to schedule a test outside normal testing hours.

I have questions/concerns; can I talk with someone before I come in?
Of course! Our prevention team is here to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have. Just call our office at 843-747-2273 and ask for a member of the prevention team, and we will help you to the best of our ability!

I think I have been exposed to HIV or another STI, how soon can I come in for a test?
This one is a little tricky because everyone’s body is different. In regards to HIV, we use a third-generation antibody test. It can take up to 3 months from the time of exposure for HIV antibodies to form. The time from infection until these antibodies form is known as the “window period.” We recommend you come in to test as soon as you’re ready so we can assess the situation and make recommendations for follow-up testing – just know that it may take up to 3 months to clear your window period. In regards to STIs, the situation is similar. Come test when you feel ready, so we can assess and make recommendations.

What do I need to bring with me?
Nothing, just bring yourself and maybe a friend. We do not need insurance cards, ID cards, etc.

What can I expect during the testing session?
During the testing session, one of our testers/counselors will start by gathering basic demographic information from you. Then the tester will conduct a sexual risk survey, which includes questions about recent sexual activity. Next, the tester will perform a finger stick and collect a small sample of your blood for the HIV test. A urine sample may be collected if you decide to do a chlamydia/gonorrhea screening and a blood draw may be performed if you are screened for syphilis. While your HIV test is processing, the test/counselor will discuss risk-reduction strategies and offer to answer any of your questions or concerns. The tester will then provide you with your HIV test result. The tester/counselor also will offer you free condoms/lube before you leave.

Why do you ask questions about my sex life? That seems really personal.
It may not always be the most comfortable topic, but during the testing session, our testers/counselors will ask about your recent sexual activity. We ask these questions so we can accurately assess your risk factors and provide the most tailored, helpful educational materials and risk-reduction strategies.

Does LAS use my information for anything?
At the end of each month, LAS reports our testing numbers and outcomes to the state health department. This information is completely de-identified, meaning it is not reported with your name. Each individual who is tested is given a unique identifier that is used in place of their name. All information discussed at LAS is confidential and subject to our HIPAA Privacy Policy (click here to view a copy of our privacy policy).

How long will the test take?
Testing session length varies based on a lot of different factors, but, in general, a testing session lasts approximately 20-30 minutes. That time includes introductions and paperwork, sexual history survey, the test, sexual risk reduction plans, and any other questions you may have.

What kind of test do you use?
Our office uses the Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV-1/2 test. For more information on this test, visit the manufacturer’s page. Our office also uses the OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV-1/2 test. For more information on this test, visit the manufacturer’s page.

When will I get my results?
The Uni-Gold Rapid HIV test provides results in 10 minutes. The OraQuick Rapid HIV test provides results in 20 minutes. Samples for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are sent to the lab for processing – these results are generally available after 5-7 business days. You will be contacted via phone by a member of the prevention team to discuss these results.

What happens if I test positive?
A positive result on a rapid HIV test is known as a “preliminary positive” because only a doctor can make a formal diagnosis after a full blood draw confirmatory test. When an individual tests preliminary positive at LAS, we run a second rapid test (using a different brand of test) to ensure accuracy. If the second test also reads preliminary positive, we conduct a blood draw for confirmatory testing. Afterward, we link the individual with one of our peers as well as with our case managers to discuss services and eligibility. Know that if you do test positive, you have the support of the entire Lowcountry AIDS Services team. We have been working in HIV care for more than 25 years, so know you are in good hands.

Do you provide medical treatment for HIV/STIs?
At this time, we do not offer in-house medical treatment for HIV/STIs. However, all our testers are trained counselors who are able to provide emotional support for individuals who test positive for HIV/STIs, as well as provide referrals to appropriate medical facilities based on need. For individuals who test positive for STIs, the tester/counselor will provide a list of referral sources where individuals can seek medical treatment. For individuals who test HIV positive, the tester/counselor will make a referral to the medical case management team at LAS. Medical case managers can help HIV-positive individuals link into medical care at one of several different providers to start the process of receiving medical care, and can link individuals with a wide variety of supportive services offered through the organization and its community partners.

Do you have condoms/lube available in your office?
Yes! We offer free condoms at our office five days a week. We always offer them during a testing session, but you do not need to get a test in order to receive free condoms. Simply come to our office during normal business hours and ask for them at the front desk. We have a variety of condoms including latex-free, extra-large, snug, and female condoms. We also have free water- and silicone-based lubricant.

**Have other questions or concerns that were not addressed in this section? If so, please call our office during normal business hours and ask for a member of the prevention team and we will be happy to assist you!