Getting Tested for HIV

HIV is no longer the death sentence it was 30 years ago. Today’s medical treatments allow patients to lead almost normal lives. But to get treated, it’s important to get tested. It is believed 1.2 million people are HIV positive, but about 20 percent are undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tragedy of this is that if people who are HIV positive know it, not only can they be treated, they can take steps to avoid transmitting it to other people. If everyone living with HIV were to be properly diagnosed, and were to take proper precautions to avoid infecting others, AIDS would be almost completely eradicated in a generation.

One reason so many people have HIV but don’t know it is that there are often no obvious symptoms for as long as several years after the initial infection. If you engage in high-risk behaviors you should be tested whether you have any symptoms or not. High-risk behaviors include sharing equipment for injected drugs and unprotected sex with anonymous partners or with multiple partners. In addition, if you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or a sexually transmitted disease, you should be tested for HIV regularly.

Testing is quick. You can get results in just 20 minutes in some cases. There are even home testing kits available that you can use in complete privacy. If you’re not sure if you’re HIV positive or not, you should be using barrier protection for any acts that may result in transmitting fluids.

If you are HIV positive, you and your doctor can work together to create a treatment strategy. Although here is no cure, there has been some success in recent years in preventing HIV from turning into AIDS, and even AIDS can be managed. As long as you know your status, you can use the information to live as healthy a life as you can. However, hiding from it doesn’t work. It’s important to be tested if you think you might be at risk.

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