Because only one in seven Americans with HIV are aware that they have the disease, getting tested to know your HIV status is an essential step to keep you and any sexual partners safe from transmission.

Should I Get Tested for HIV?

Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV and the CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Whether or not you are at risk for HIV infection, you should get tested. If your behavior puts you at higher risk, you should get tested for HIV more often.

And, if any of the following apply to you, it is highly recommended that you get tested for HIV as soon as possible:

  • You are a man who has had sex with another man.
  • You have had sex — anal or vaginal — with an HIV-positive partner.
  • You have had more than one sex partner.
  • You have injected drugs and shared needles.
  • You have or have had a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Any of these facts apply to a person you have had sex with.
  • You are unaware of your partner’s sexual history or HIV status.

Before engaging in sexual activity, it is highly recommended that you have a conversation with your partner regarding your sexual history and any drug-use, as well as your HIV status; if either of you are unaware of your HIV status, get tested for HIV immediately and share the results before further sexual activity.

HIV Testing: The Process

HIV tests are quick and painless, and some can even be conducted in the privacy of your home. Most health insurance plans cover HIV testing without a co-pay and, if you do not have health insurance, you can access a free test HERE.  Testing locations can include at a lab or healthcare setting, a rapid test at a community organization, or self-testing at home.

If you take a blood test, it can take several days for your results to become available. A rapid test takes about 20 minutes to learn the results and usually involves an oral swab or finger stick. If the rapid HIV test at a clinic or a home test has a positive result, be sure to schedule a follow-up test to ensure the results are accurate. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you have HIV (or are HIV-positive) and you need to quickly consult with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan. Learn more about treatment for HIV.

How Do I Get Tested for HIV?

You can get tested for HIV at your local health department, through your primary doctor or gynecologist, community health organization or you can use an online locator to find a testing site near you:

Do not let fear of a result prevent you from getting tested for HIV. Approach it as a proactive, preventative part of taking care of your overall health. It is a very simple process and if you do test positive for HIV, it is better to know as early as possible so you can start treatment and prevent transmission to others.

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