To Test Or Not To Test
If you know you've been exposed to HIV/AIDS then you will want to get tested to see if you've been infected. But what if you are just worried or concerned that you might have been exposed, should you still have a test?
If you take part in known risky behavior:- having multiple partners without using condoms; inject street drugs; have a sexual partner who is in other sexual relationships or takes street drugs; or even have tattoos or body piercings, especially from amateurs, then you should be tested, preferably on a regular basis.
Health Care Worker
If you are a health care worker who is exposed to body fluids like blood, your employer may provide regular testing. If not, you may like to have a test periodically to make sure that you haven't been inadvertently exposed.
If on the other hand, you and your partner are a virgins, or in a long term completely monogamous relationship where you use condoms every time you have sex; have never taken or injected street drugs and your partner hasn't either, then you probably don't need to be tested.
Many insurance companies require you to an HIV test before agreeing to a health or life insurance policy. In this case, or if you need a test for employment reasons, such as the United States Armed Forces, you will need to take a confidential test. This means that the answer can be given to the organization requiring the test and will be on your medical records. Otherwise if you are taking a test for your own information only, you will probably prefer to take a test anonymously.
A positive result for HIV has a variety of implications, apart from your health, including making it difficult to get health insurance. It may also mean rejection from friends or family and can also affect your job or job prospects.
So having an anonymous test means that no one knows who you are. You are given a number to identify you and you don't need to give any identification, name, address, phone number etc. Most anonymous testing is free and you don't need to worry about anybody finding out your results.
If you have a confidential test, usually in your health practitioners' office, it costs around $50. This means that the answer is linked to your name and medical records. Therefore others could find out. This could be either by accident or because your doctor may need to answer questions about your HIV status if you apply for health or other types of insurance.
Remember in Sex in the City when Samantha went to be tested? The testing clinic gave her counseling both before and after the test. This was to make sure she understood the implications of being tested, and to understand her results afterwards.
The Pre-test and post-testing counseling are all part of the testing process. This is especially important if it turns out that your test result is positive. Your counselor will help you to work out what to do next. If you tested negatively they will advise you on how to protect yourself in the future.
Where To Get Tested
There are a wide variety of places to get tested and your local AIDS help line will be able to tell you where your nearest anonymous testing center is.
If you think you may have been exposed to risk - get tested so you can protect you and your partner's health.