The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. Knowing your status gives you powerful information to keep you and your partner healthy.
The following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the importance of getting tested for HIV.
CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.
People at higher risk should get tested more often. If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, the test was more than one year ago, and you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then you should get an HIV test as soon as possible:
- Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
- Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with a partner who has HIV?
- Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
- Have you injected drugs and shared needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment (for example, cookers) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with or treated for another sexually transmitted disease?
- Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?
You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every 3 to 6 months).
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.
Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results.
How does taking an HIV test help me?
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to keep you and your partner healthy.
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. Taking HIV medicine as prescribed can make the amount of HIV in your blood (viral load) very low—so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load). Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if your test is positive. If a woman with HIV is treated early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby is extremely low (1% or less).
There’s a lot more information from CDC on HIV Testing here.