Today, 24-27 percent of HIV-positive individuals are unaware of their HIV status and might be unknowingly spreading the virus. An individual may have HIV and still feel perfectly healthy. The only way to be certain if a person is infected or not, is to be tested. A doctor or health department can provide testing, or home collection kits (for testing for HIV antibodies) can be purchased at many pharmacies.
Today, with advanced technology, taking an HIV/AIDS test is quick and simple. Many health care providers offer free confidential testing and have begun using rapid HIV tests which provide results immediately during the testing visit.
In many states, tests are administered anonymously. These tests are usually given at special places known as anonymous testing sites. When an individuals gets an anonymous HIV test, the testing site records only a number or code with the test result, not a name. A counselor gives the individual this number at the time blood, saliva, or urine is taken for the test, then the individual returns to the testing site (or perhaps calls the testing site, for example with home collection kits) and gives them the number or code to learn the test results.
What Can I do If I Test Positive?
Although HIV is a very serious infection, many people with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier lives today, thanks to new and effective treatments. It is very important to make sure you have a doctor who knows how to treat HIV. If you don’t know which doctor to use, talk with a health care professional or trained HIV counselor. If you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, this is especially important.
There also are other things you can do for yourself to stay healthy. Here are a few:
- Follow your doctor’s instructions. Keep your appointments. Your doctor may prescribe medicine for you. Take the medicine just the way he or she tells you to because taking only some of your medicine gives your HIV infection more chance to grow.
- Get immunizations(shots)to prevent infections such as pneumonia and flu. Your doctor will tell you when to get these shots.
- If you smoke or if you use drugs not prescribed by your doctor, quit.
- Eat healthy foods. This will help keep you strong, keep your energy and weight up, and help your body protect itself.
- Exercise regularly to stay strong and fit.
- Get enough sleep and rest.
Locate a Testing Site
To find a testing site near you call the CDC National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-2437 (Spanish/ Español: 1-800-344-7432; TTY access: 1-800-243-7889) or visit www.HIVTest.org.