It's understandable why many gay men either don't get tested or never pick up their results. The anxiety is almost overwhelming. Still, regardless of the emotional difficulty, it's important (and our duty) to get tested on a routine basis. Getting tested and knowing your status can help you get the care you need or help you protect yourself and others.
About HIV Testing
An HIV test tells you if you have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The rapid HIV test the produces results in 20 minutes; however it is recommended that you follow up with a full test at a medical facility.
Why Should You Get Tested?
- If you are infected, you can get treatment that may help you live longer. You can also learn how avoid passing the infection to your partners and protect yourself from other STDs, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes or LGV.
- If you are not infected, you can learn how to stay negative.
Who Should Get Tested?
It's recommended that you get tested if you currently or have ever:
- had an STD
- had many sex partners
- shared needles or works to shoot drugs
- shared needles for a piercing or tattoo
- had sex with a man or woman without a condom, or
- if you are pregnant (HIV positive women can pass HIV to their babies)
Where Can You Get Tested?
You can get tested for HIV at most clinics, local health departments or your doctor. Some places provide the test for free. Contact your local gay community center for a testing center near you.
Do You Have to Give Your Name?
No. You can request an anonymous test. In this case you will be given an identification number, which will be used to match your test results.
Are Your Test Results Confidential?
You and the health care professional that conduct the test will know the results. Other than that, they are completely confidential. However, if you test positive your results will most likely be reported to the government agency that tracks HIV/AIDS cases, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Can You Help Stop the Spread of HIV?
Yes, you can help stop the spread of HIV by:
- getting tested
- not sharing needles
- using a latex condom during sex
- asking your partner or partners about their sexual history
- not using drugs before or during sex