Why Get Tested for HIV?
It's Quick and Easy: Getting an HIV test is quick, easy, and almost always free. It is also the only way to know for sure whether or not you have been infected. It involves a quick saliva or blood test.
Better to Know: Testing early for HIV can help put your mind at ease and reduce the anxiety of not knowing. Whether your result is negative, or positive, it's always better to know so that you can move on with your life, or start treatment if necessary.
Can Help You Live a Long and Healthy Life: If you do have HIV, being diagnosed at an early stage means that you have a better chance of living a long and healthy life.
Means You can Access Treatment: Being diagnosed early also means you can get treatment earlier and help protect your current and future sexual partners.
Supports Healthy Sexual Relationships: Testing for HIV regularly means that you can look after the sexual health of you and your partner.
With the right treatment and care, you can live a long and healthy life with HIV.
It is important to start treatment as soon as possible: You should start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. Taking medicine to treat HIV, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), is recommended for all people with HIV. Taking medicine to treat HIV slows the progression of HIV and helps protect your immune system. The medicine can keep you healthy for many years and greatly reduces your chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners if taken the right way everyday.
If you have health insurance, the insurer is required to cover some medications used to treat HIV.
If you do not have health insurance, or you cannot afford your copay or coinsurance amount, you may be able to get help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. Visit www.cdc.gov/hivtreatmentworks to learn more.
Your healthcare worker can give you guidance on treatment and put you in touch with peer support groups or personal counselors.
You Should Get Tested If You Have:
You have had sex without a condom
Shared needles when injecting drugs
Put yourself at risk of HIV in any way or worried you might have
Telling Others You are Postive for HIV:
The decision of who to tell about your HIV-status is a personal choice. You may find yourself trying to balance honesty with protecting your right to privacy. As with many issues surrounding HIV, there are no absolute answers that are right for everyone.
On www.hiv.gov, The Federal Government advises...
Disclosure to Partner: Disclosing your HIV status to your partner or significant other can be complex. If you have had unprotected sex with your partner, it is important to let him/her know so that he/she can get tested. Regardless of your partner's decision to test or get results, by disclosing, you are making him/her aware of the need to practice safer sex together in the future. It is perfectly normal to experience any form of anxiety or feel nervous before telling your partner about your HIV status. It is important to understand that before your partner can respond to your needs, your partner may first feel anxiety about his/her own HIV staus and may also feel angry and upset if the infection occurred sexually, outside of the relationship. It also might be helpful to tell your partner in an effort to get yourself emotional support. It is important to have someone willing to listen to your concerns, to offer suggestions, and to simply be there.
Disclosure to Employers: It is important to remember that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, prospective employers do not have the right to make inquiries about your health or the existence of a disability prior to a conditional job offer. However, they may legally inquire if you are aware of any physical limitation that would interfere with your ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Because the Americans with Disabilities Act regards a person with HIV or AIDS as a disabled person, your employer will be required to resonably accomodate your needs if you are otherwise qualified to perform the essential duties of your job.
Disclosure to Health Care Providers: It is important that your health care providers know about your HIV status in order to be able to give you the best possible care. it is also important that your healthcare providers are aware of your status so that they don't prescribe medication for you that may be harmful when taken with your HIV medications. Your HIV status will become part of your medical records. However, all medical information falls under strict confidentiality laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's Privacy Rule and cannot be released without your permission.
Give Yourself Time
The CDC Recommends...
Everyone reacts differently when they find out that they are HIV-positive, but common feelings can include shock, anger, fear or sadness. You probably have questions regarding how you got the virus and what will happen next. All of these emotions are completely natural. Learning more about HIV will help you feel more relaxed and understand that you do not have to manage everything on your own. Taking to a trusted friend or family member can also help you process your feelings. Remember that HIV is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is not something that you should feel as if you have to hide from your loved ones. You may have some good days and bad days, but just give yourself time to get used to the news of your diagnosis and to learn about what it means for you.
If a Friend, Partner or Family Member Discloses a Positive HIV Status:
Acknowledge: If someone has disclosed their HIV status with you, thank them for trusting you with that information.
Ask: If appropriate, ask if there is anything you can do to help them. One reason why they might have chosen to disclose their status to you is because they need an ally or advocate.
Reassure: Let the person know, both through your words and actions, that their HIV status does not change your relationship and that you will keep this information private if they desire.
Learn: Educate yourself about HIV. Today lots of people living with HIV take ART and have the virus under control. Others are at different stages of treatment and care. Don't make assumptions.
All graphics by Jaclyn Saik