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 workplace external icon.