Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. Many people do not have any symptoms and can live for many years without knowing they have the virus.
Testing for HIV is quick, easy, painless, confidential and almost always free. If you test regularly for HIV, and after every time you put yourself at risk, you can help keep yourself and your sexual partners healthy. It is always better to know.
WHY GET TESTED FOR HIV?
A lot of people feel nervous about testing for HIV, but the reasons to test far outweigh the reasons not to test.
Key reasons for testing for HIV
You should get tested if you've:
- had sex without a condom
- shared needles when injecting drugs
- put yourself at risk of HIV in any other way or are worried you might have.
Even if you haven't recently put yourself at risk of infection, making HIV testing part of your sexual health routine is a good habit to get into for a number of reasons...
It's quick and easy
As mentioned above, getting an HIV test is quick, easy and almost always free. It's also the only way to know for sure whether or not you have been infected and involves a quick saliva or blood test.
It's always better to know
It's normal to feel worried about HIV, but testing for HIV can help put your mind at ease and reduce the anxiety of not knowing. Whether your result is negative, or positive, it's always better to know so that you can move on with your life, or start treatment if necessary. And remember, your result may not be what you expect.
A positive result means you can access treatment
If you do have HIV, being diagnosed at an early stage means that you have a better chance of living a long and healthy life. This is because HIV attacks your immune system. If you're diagnosed early, you can start HIV treatment (antiretroviral drugs) earlier. This will lower the levels of HIV in your body, protect your immune system from damage, and stop you getting ill.
With the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can expect to live as long as the average person, so it's important to take control of your health by getting a test.
Testing means you can keep your sexual partners healthy
Testing for HIV regularly, and knowing your status, means that you can look after the sexual health of your partners too. If you're positive, you can prevent HIV from being transmitted to your partner by using condoms.
Also, by starting and staying on antiretroviral treatment you will reduce the levels of HIV in your body, making it less likely you will pass HIV on. With effective antiretroviral treatment it's possible the level of virus in your body will go so low it becomes 'undetectable'.
If you find out you're positive, you can also encourage your partners to get tested.
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