Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to protect your health as well as your partner.
Knowing your status, whether positive or negative, is knowing that you are healthy and your partner is protected when it comes to HIV transmission. According to the CDC, HIV is mainly spread by having sex or sharing syringes and other injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV. Substance use can contribute to these risks indirectly because alcohol and other drugs can lower people’s inhibitions and make them less likely to use condoms. A person is at a higher risk for testing positive for HIV if they are sexually active or participate in injection drug use.
What is HIV/AIDS?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense against disease. If left untreated, HIV can weaken the immune system so much that it can no longer fight infection. This late stage of the virus, known as AIDS, can be deadly.
HIV is a serious condition that can affect people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. Though around 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the United States every year, as many as one in eight people living with HIV don't know they have it. BUT, just because they don't know it, doesn't mean that it won't have harmful effects on their health, if left untreated.
Why Get Tested for HIV?
Getting tested for HIV is the only way to protect your health and the health of the people you care about. People may find out that they are HIV positive at any age, so it is important to know if you are at risk and test often. Because symptoms of HIV/AIDS can take years to develop, it's essential to get tested even if you feel fine. Horizon Behavioral Health offers free, confidential HIV testing Monday through Friday. When you're ready, you can call (434) 382-8649 today to schedule an appointment.
You should especially test for HIV if you experience any symptoms of HIV 2-6 weeks after an unsafe sex event including:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fever or rashes
- Aching limbs
- Sore throat
- Ulcerations in the mouth or genitals
- Severe headaches
It is great if you have been tested before. But it’s important to test regularly because that is the best way to take charge of your health and your sexual wellbeing. And it is the only way to know your status for sure!
What if I test negative?
Even if you have tested before or think there is no chance you have been exposed to HIV, medical experts still recommend that you should test at least twice a year if you’re sexually active. It's important to remember that a diagnosis can change at any age. In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested.
People who get tested and learn they don't have HIV can make important decisions about sex, drug use, and health care that can help prevent prevent HIV in the future. If you test negative but are still at a higher risk, HIV medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective for preventing HIV and may be right for you.
What if I test positive?
Learning that you have tested HIV positive might be difficult to accept at first, but you’re not alone. Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV.
There are people and organizations here in central Virginia that will help you face the road ahead. Most people who are HIV positive now live long, healthy and fulfilling lives thanks to advances in HIV treatments. The earlier you know if you are HIV positive, the earlier you can get treatment, and the better your health outcomes are, long-term. There are also plenty of precautionary steps you can take to avoid passing on the virus to others while still living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Get Tested Today!
There are many benefits of HIV testing: the test is fast and easy, you can live a healthier life with a peace of mind, and protect your partners too. If you're ready to know your HIV status, call Horizon Behavioral Health at (434) 382-8649 to schedule an appointment. We offer free, confidential testing Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. We are proud to offer HIV testing to all central Virginia residents, regardless of age, income, or insurance status.
This HIV Campaign was made possible by funding from the Virginia Department of Health.