WHY DO WE NEED TO GET TESTED FOR HIV?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV is a disease that weakens your immune system, by decreasing a type of your white blood cells called the CD4 T-Cells. HIV is transmitted sexually and parenterally (meaning through bodily fluids, such as blood contact).
There is only one way to tell your HIV status and it is to get screened and tested. A lot of people may feel nervous about getting tested, but nervousness alone is not enough reason not to get tested. Getting screened and tested, especially when you have risk factors, outweighs benefits as like most diseases, receiving early treatment greatly increases your survival rate.
Who Should Get Tested for HIV?
HIV affects anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, or age. However, certain groups are at higher risk.
You should be tested if you have:
HOW IS HIV TESTED?
- Had a history of unsafe sex
- Had a history of being sexually active with multiple partners or you have had a high risk partner or an HIV positive partner
- Received blood transfusion from an unsafe source
- Intravenous (injection) drug user, sharing needles
- Healthcare workers exposed to blood
- Have had other sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B, C, syphilis or genital herpes
HIV screening and testing is quick and easy and most of the time can be free. Tests are done at VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) clinics. The test is done by taking a blood sample from the finger or arm, or by an oral swab. It is absolutely normal to feel worried about your results, but testing for it can put your mind at ease, and reduce anxiety.
An HIV positive result, though not the best news in the world, will give you a chance to receive earlier treatment. As HIV attacks your immune system, starting treatment earlier (called antiretroviral drugs), will lower the level of HIV in your body.
Testing for HIV regularly, and knowing your HIV status means that you also care about the sexual health of your loved ones, your sexual partner(s) and children. If you are positive, you can prevent the transmission of HIV sexually by using condoms. You should also encourage your partner(s) and loved ones to be tested too.