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If you get a test in a health care setting or lab, a health care provider or lab technician will take your sample (blood or oral fluid). If it’s a rapid test, you may be able to wait for the results, but if it is a laboratory test, it can take several days for your results to be available. Your health care provider or counselor may talk with you about your risk factors, answer any questions you might have, and discuss next steps with you, especially if your result is positive.
If you are tested outside of a health care setting or a lab, you will likely receive a rapid test (oral fluid or finger stick).
HIV screening is covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. If you do not have medical insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to keep you and your partner healthy.
All pregnant women should be tested for HIV so that they can begin treatment if they have HIV. If a woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby is extremely low (1% or less). Testing pregnant women for HIV infection and treating those women who have HIV has led to a huge decline in the number of children born with HIV.
The treatment is most effective when started as early as possible during a pregnancy. However, there are still great health benefits to beginning preventive treatment even during labor or shortly after the baby is born.
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and more often if you do things that might increase your risk for getting HIV.
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship (both you and your partner are having sex only with each other), you should find out for sure whether you or your partner has HIV.
CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.
People at higher risk should get tested more often. If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, the test was more than one year ago, and you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you should get an HIV test as soon as possible:
You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.
Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results.
In some states, there are lawsexternal icon that require you to share your HIV status with your sex or injection partners. Sharing your status with anyone else is your choice.
Telling your partners that you have HIV before you have sex or inject drugs may be uncomfortable. But doing so protects you under the law. It also allows your partners to make decisions that can protect their health.
You should also tell your current or former partners if you’ve been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease (STD). This lets them know that they should also get tested for other STDs.
There are a few ways to let your partners know:
You tell your partners.
The health department tells your partners.
Health care providers and other HIV service providers need to know so they can support you and protect themselves.
Sharing your HIV status with certain family members and friends has emotional and practical benefits.
You do not have to tell your employer.
Your health care provider will use blood tests to monitor your HIV infection. These tests help your health care provider make decisions about changes to your treatment.
During your medical visit, your health care provider may ask questions and conduct routine medical exams to see how HIV is affecting your body.
Your health care provider may
Finding a health care teamexternal icon that is knowledgeable about HIV care is an important step. Your health care team will help you manage your care and treatment.
Your primary HIV health care provider should lead your health care team. Your primary HIV health care provider may be a
Your primary HIV health care provider will
Your health care team may include other providers who are experts in taking care of people with HIV.
Tell your health care provider right away if you’re having trouble sticking to your plan. Together you can identify the reasons you’re skipping medications and make a plan to address those reasons.
Talk to your health care provider about problems taking your HIV medicine.
Plan ahead and keep extra medicine with you.
Talk to your health care provider if you miss a lot of doses of your HIV medicine.
Join a support group or ask your family and friends for support. They can help you stick to your treatment plan.
HIV medicine can cause side effects in some people. However, not everyone experiences side effects. The most common side effects are
Talk to your health care provider if your treatment makes you sick. Your health care provider may prescribe medicines to help manage the side effects or may change your treatment plan.
HIV treatment involves taking medicine that reduces the amount of HIV in your body.
Talking openly about HIV can help normalize the subject. It also provides opportunities to correct misconceptions and help others learn more about HIV. But be mindful of how you talk about HIV and people living with HIV. The Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma language guide can help.
We can all help end HIV stigma through our words and actions in our everyday lives. Lead others with your supportive behaviors. Check out the Let’s Stop HIV Together stigma scenarios for tips on what you can do when you witness stigma. You can also make a pledge to stop HIV stigma by downloading a pledge card to customize and post on your website, blog, and social media channel.
HIV stigma is rooted in a fear of HIV. Many of our ideas about HIV come from the HIV images that first appeared in the early 1980s. There are still misconceptions about how HIV is transmitted and what it means to live with HIV today.
The lack of information and awareness combined with outdated beliefs lead people to fear getting HIV. Additionally, many people think of HIV as a disease that only certain groups get. This leads to negative value judgements about people who are living with HIV.
HIV stigma and discrimination affect the emotional well-being and mental health of people living with HIV. People living with HIV often internalize the stigma they experience and begin to develop a negative self-image. They may fear they will be discriminated against or judged negatively if their HIV status is revealed.
“Internalized stigma” or “self-stigma” happens when a person takes in the negative ideas and stereotypes about people living with HIV and starts to apply them to themselves. HIV internalized stigma can lead to feelings of shame, fear of disclosure, isolation, and despair. These feelings can keep people from getting tested and treated for HIV.
While stigma refers to an attitude or belief, discrimination is the behaviors that result from those attitudes or beliefs. HIV discrimination is the act of treating people living with HIV differently than those without HIV.
Here are a few examples:
HIV stigma is negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. It is the prejudice that comes with labeling an individual as part of a group that is believed to be socially unacceptable.
Here are a few examples: