Did you know everyone between 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once? If you don’t think you are at risk, you are probably wondering, “Why should I get tested for HIV?” You should get tested for many reasons, but here are just a few!
You can catch the virus early
One of the biggest reasons to get tested for HIV is the ability to catch the virus early. About 67% of people who are infected with HIV show flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks. These symptoms, including fever, chills and sore throat, can last a few days to several weeks. Since these symptoms are common for many illnesses, it can be hard to know if HIV is causing them. If you have a reason to think that you may have been infected, you should get tested for HIV as soon as possible so that you can start treatment.
You can protect your partners and loved ones
Knowing your HIV status is important for more than just your own health. If you know that you have HIV, you can take steps to prevent spreading it to your sexual partners. Getting tested for HIV is especially important for those looking to become, or have recently become, pregnant. When given the proper treatment, it is possible to have children without passing the virus on to your baby.
HIV is transmitted through:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluid
- Anal fluid
- Breast milk
HIV is NOT transmitted through:
- Donating blood
- Closed-mouth kissing or hugging
You can reduce the risk of developing AIDS
When left untreated, HIV can turn into AIDS. HIV typically turns into AIDS in eight to 10 years when left untreated. Most people who go on to develop AIDS either never got diagnosed with HIV, did not get treatment early enough, or did not stick with their treatment for HIV.
About 1 in 7 people who have HIV do not know they are infected.
When caught early, you can start treatment for HIV before it progresses into later stages. People who start treatment for HIV early and stay consistent with their medication often live just as long as those who do not have the virus.
You can gain peace of mind
Getting tested is the only way to know if you have HIV. Receiving a negative result can give you peace of mind knowing that you do not have HIV. If you are HIV-negative, it is important to take steps to make sure that you stay negative. Educating yourself on the risk factors of HIV, such as injection drug use and unprotected sex, and encouraging friends and family to get tested at least once can help reduce your risk and the risk of your loved ones from catching HIV.