Surprising facts about knowing your HIV status
With World Aids Day coming up on 1 December, getting tested is top of mind for many people – but it’s also causing a lot of people to bury their heads in the sand!
We know it can be daunting (or downright terrifying) to get tested, but guess what? It doesn’t have to be. You might be surprised to know that finding out your status is actually a lot less scary than you think.
Here are the three most common questions we get about knowing your HIV status and the answers that will put your mind at ease.
1.Why do I need to know my HIV status?
Knowing your status will empower you, and let’s be honest: being empowered feels great! Moreover, knowing your status helps you make to better decisions about your sexual health and your future. So if you’re negative, you can stay negative by practising abstinence or safe sex (here’s how to make it fun), and if you’re positive, early detection means a longer, healthier life. There are so many steps you can take to boost your immune system, like eating healthily, exercising and treating secondary infections early.
Knowing your status also helps you protect your partner (did you know, for example, that if you’re both HIV positive, you should still be using protection? It’s an absolute must because it’ll keep you both healthier for longer).
Basically, knowing your body is a big part of being a responsible, mature adult and living a healthy life. And YES, it’s totally possible to live a long life with HIV.
2. When should I get tested?
Most HIV tests can detect HIV infection within three months of a person being exposed to the infection. However, it can take up to six months for the test to pick up the antibodies in your blood.
It’s a good idea to get tested regularly if you’re having unprotected sex, starting a new relationship, if the condom broke or if you’ve had more than one partner and haven’t used protection every single time. If you get a negative result, and it’s been less than three months since any of these things occurred, you should have another test a few months later to confirm your result. Always practice safe sex or abstinence in between tests.
3. What if I am HIV positive?
Many people live happy and fulfilling lives after receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis, because they take good care of themselves. Knowing your status enables you to take charge of your body and start living a healthier life. A few small changes can ensure that you, too, can stay active, fit and healthy, even if you’re HIV positive.
Getting tested for HIV and STIs
You can get HIV counselling and testing, as well as STI screening and advice at your nearest Marie Stopes centre. The tests are quick, confidential and affordable, and our caring staff will guide you through the process, providing all the support you need.