An estimated 1.2 million individuals within the U.S. dwell with HIV. However analysis exhibits that a lot of them — about 13% — do not know it. In keeping with the CDC, practically 40% of recent HIV infections are transmitted by individuals who don’t know they’ve the virus.
There are a number of causes that will maintain individuals again from getting an HIV take a look at. Concern of sickness, stigma, and being discriminated in opposition to or judged negatively if a take a look at exhibits that they’ve HIV are a number of the obstacles.
However getting a take a look at is step one to understanding your standing. That’s essential data that helps you’re taking cost of your well being and stop the viral an infection that may trigger AIDS.
For Kelly Gluckman of Seattle, HIV was the very last thing on her thoughts when she stopped utilizing condoms along with her companion with out first getting examined for HIV.
“I knew that that wasn’t the neatest determination,” says Gluckman, now in her 30s.
She was 23 on the time, and regardless that she knew about HIV testing by means of complete intercourse training in class, she says as a “white, straight feminine,” she by no means noticed herself in danger for HIV. However after about 6 months of unprotected intercourse, Gluckman and her companion determined to get examined to rule out HIV as a precaution.
“We each examined constructive on Oct. 25, 2010,” Gluckman says. “We had been each fairly devastated,.”
“The fast thought was, ‘Oh my God, I’ll die.’ I confronted mortality, as a result of ‘HIV turns into AIDS and you then die.’ That is simply what had been drilled into me from what I noticed within the media, and from what I discovered about in class,” Gluckman says.
In hindsight, Gluckman says denial performed a task in her and her companion hesitating to get an HIV take a look at.
“We’d discuss going and getting examined after which we simply would not do it,” she says.
Many individuals nonetheless are inclined to have a “scary view” of HIV, says David Pantalone, PhD, professor of psychology at College of Massachusetts Boston. He believes it might have one thing to do with outdated photographs and narratives about HIV from the ’80s.
“I believe there is not a revised public conception of what it is wish to have HIV,” Pantalone says. “The reason being as a result of what it seems wish to have HIV now’s mainly the identical because it seems wish to not have HIV. The life expectancy information between HIV-positive people and HIV-negative people isn’t actually that completely different.”
Whereas HIV doesn’t have a remedy, the remedy, antiretroviral remedy (ART), is very efficient. It lowers the quantity of HIV virus in your physique, or your viral load. In the event you take the medication simply as your physician tells you to, the viral load can grow to be so low that it turns into undetectable on an HIV take a look at. When this occurs, there’s little to no likelihood of creating signs from the an infection or spreading it to others. Normally, you possibly can carry HIV below management with medicine in slightly below 6 months.
Gluckman noticed constructive outcomes quickly after she began taking her treatment.
“My viral load turned undetectable inside 2 months,” Gluckman says, including that she had no unwanted side effects.
“I assumed, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to dwell, I could be wholesome with this factor, with this virus.’”
The CDC recommends that everybody between ages 13 to 64 have an HIV take a look at at the very least as soon as of their life. Normally, you are able to do this throughout your annual well being check-up. In the event you haven’t had the take a look at, ask your physician about it.
In the event you’re at larger threat, you could be examined extra typically: each 3 or 6 months to make certain. However Pantalone says the shortage of testing additionally outcomes from individuals mistaking that top threat for the illness “suits inside an identification” when it’s a virus unfold by widespread human habits, like having intercourse.
“In the event you’ve had any condomless intercourse with any particular person, you then want an HIV take a look at. Even when it is low threat, it’s best to nonetheless do it periodically, since you by no means know,” Pantalone says.
You are at larger threat for HIV when you can reply “sure” to any of the next questions, in accordance with the CDC:
- Are you a person who has had intercourse with one other man?
- Have you ever had intercourse — anal or vaginal — with somebody who has HIV?
- Have you ever had a couple of intercourse companion since your final HIV take a look at?
- Have you ever shared needles, shared injectable medicine, or different drug injection tools with others?
- Have you ever had intercourse in trade for medicine or cash?
- Have you ever been recognized with or handled for different sexually transmitted ailments?
- Have you ever been recognized with or handled for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you ever had intercourse with somebody whose sexual historical past you’re not conscious of?
If any of this is applicable to you, you possibly can profit from a yearly HIV take a look at even when your final take a look at was unfavourable.
In the event you’re pregnant, ask your physician for an HIV take a look at. You probably have HIV if you get pregnant, inform your physician as quickly as doable. Your physician can provide the proper medicines that can assist you and your child keep wholesome.
It’s additionally good apply to get examined for HIV and know your standing earlier than you will have intercourse with a brand new companion for the primary time. It’s at all times a good suggestion to ask about their sexual and drug-use historical past earlier than you will have intercourse. If you already know you will have HIV, inform them your standing. In the event you’re not sure about you or your companion’s HIV standing, make certain to put on a condom. This may help defend your well being or cease others from getting the an infection.
In the event you assume you’ve been uncovered to HIV or have what you assume could also be signs, speak to your physician as quickly as doable. Getting an HIV take a look at or speaking to your physician about HIV could really feel each awkward and hectic. However coming in ready may help you take care of it higher.
Take an inventory of questions with you so you may get probably the most dependable data. This may help your physician make a remedy plan when you do have HIV.
Even when you discover out that you simply don’t have HIV, it is a good time to ask questions and study extra about how one can assist stop HIV an infection. You could have heard of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, which may help stop you from getting HIV. You’ll be able to ask questions like:
- How can I defend myself from HIV?
- How typically ought to I get examined?
- Does my intercourse companion additionally want a take a look at?
- Do you provide counseling on HIV prevention or suggest a spot that does?
In the event you don’t wish to go by your self, ask a good friend or member of the family to associate with you for help. In the event you get a prognosis of HIV, your physician can level you to many assets to get you the assistance and remedy you could carry the an infection below management.
In the event you’re attempting to influence an in depth good friend or a beloved one to get examined for HIV, Pantalone says it might assist to have them consider how understanding their HIV standing or getting examined for it will probably assist stop the unfold to different individuals they know.
Stigma and lack of correct care can exist even amongst well being care suppliers .However do not let that cease you from getting examined or getting preventive care or remedy.
You probably have a spot you go to for well being care and also you wish to begin getting examined for HIV, carry it up along with your well being care supplier. “And if that supplier is not supportive, then swap,” Pantalone says. “Going to a corporation that particularly serves the HIV neighborhood is an effective way to be met with open arms and no judgments.”
In the event you do take a look at constructive for HIV, Gluckman says t’s essential to keep in mind that you are greater than that.
“You might be worthy of respect, you might be worthy of affection, you might be worthy of well being, you are worthy of fine intercourse,” Gluckman says. “HIV is simply the virus.”