The CDC currently recommends that all adults in the United States get tested for HIV infection at least once, regardless of risk factors for HIV infection, and with repeat HIV tests if there is an ongoing risk of HIV infection. Finding out your HIV test results lets you know if you need to get treatment. HIV testing can be accompanied by counseling, which involves talking with a trained counselor before and after taking the HIV test. You don't have to get HIV counseling before HIV testing but it can be a good way to educate yourself about HIV and your own risk. You can ask questions about HIV, talk about your risk of getting HIV, and raise any concerns or fears about testing you may have.
Here are some questions to consider regarding HIV testing:
1. Do you have reason to think you might be infected?
Have you ever had "unprotected" sex (sex without a condom or other latex barrier)--oral, vaginal, or anal?
Have you ever had sex with someone who was an IV drug user or had HIV?
Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, or hepatitis?
Have you ever had an unplanned pregnancy?
Have you ever been sexually assaulted (raped, forced or talked into having sex when you didn't want to)?
Have you ever passed out or forgotten what happened after you were drinking or getting high?
Have you ever shared needles or other equipment to inject drugs or pierce the skin?
Have you ever received a blood transfusion? (the risk is very low in the United States, but can vary in other countries)
Did your mother have HIV when you were born?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be at increased risk of HIV infection and should consider getting a first HIV test or repeat HIV testing.
2. Do you need permission from a parent or guardian to be tested?
In some places, minors may not be tested without permission from a parent or guardian. Can you ask your parents for permission?
3. Are you getting tested because you are pregnant?
If you test positive for HIV during a pregnancy, your doctor can give you medication to help prevent the baby from becoming infected.
4. What will you do with the results?
If you test positive, how do you think your life will change? If you test negative, what will you do differently? Will you have support from friends or family when you find out your results?
5. Can anyone find out your test results?
This depends on whether the test is anonymous or confidential. If you are tested anonymously, your name is not recorded and no one can have access to your test results. Confidential testing means that your name and test results are linked, and will not be made public, but may be reported to health departments or become part of your medical record. In some areas, your HIV status can be made known to previous or current sex partners without your permission. Since the rules differ from state to state and from country to country, you should ask the test site who can have access to your test results if you choose confidential testing.