Up to 1 out of 7 people who have HIV don't know it. Getting an HIV test is the only way to know if you have HIV. Knowing if you have HIV can be essential to your sexual health. If you know you have HIV, you are more likely to get the care you need to keep from developing AIDS. If you know you don't have HIV, you can learn what you need to do to protect yourself and your partner(s) from getting it.
Why Should I Be Tested for HIV?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that everyone should know whether or not they are infected with HIV because there are important health benefits to this knowledge. If you are HIV negative, you can take steps to make sure you stay that way. If you find you are infected with HIV, you can get treatment that can greatly improve your health and extend your life.
If you have HIV, you can also take precautions to protect your partners. Most people who find out they are HIV infected change their behaviors in order to reduce the chance of passing the virus on to others.
Whatever the outcome of your HIV test, knowing your HIV status is valuable information.
How Often Should I Be Tested for HIV?
How often you should get an HIV test depends on your circumstances. If you have never been tested for HIV, you should be tested at least once. The CDC recommends being tested at least once a year if you do things that can transmit HIV infection. These include
- injecting drugs or steroids with used injection equipment
- having sex for money or drugs
- having sex with an HIV-infected person
- having more than one sex partner since your last HIV test
- having a sex partner who has had other sex partners since your last HIV test.
If you have been tested for HIV and the result is negative and you never do things that might help transmit HIV infection, then you and your health care provider can decide whether you need to get tested again. Overall, you should talk to your doctor about how often to get tested for HIV.
How Long After a Possible Exposure Should I Wait to Get Tested for HIV?
The tests commonly used to detect HIV infection are actually looking for antibodies produced by an individual’s immune system when they are exposed to HIV. Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 2 to 8 weeks (the average is 25 days). Ninety seven percent will develop antibodies in the first 3 months following the time of their infection. In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months to develop antibodies to HIV. Therefore, if the initial negative HIV test was conducted within the first 3 months after possible exposure, repeat testing should be considered greater than 3 months after the exposure occurred to account for the possibility of a false-negative result.
Where Can I Get Tested for HIV and other STIs?
The Office of Health, Alcohol and Drug Education sponsors free and confidential HIV testing for students in our office during Fall & Spring semesters. The bloodless tests are administered by Heartland Community Services Foundation and results are available in 20 minutes. Watch your BSU email for dates to schedule an anonymous appointment.
Student Health Center located on campus. Provides HIV/STI testing. Call (765) 285-8431 for information and fees.
Open Door Health Services located at 905 S Walnut St, Muncie. Provides HIV/STI testing on a sliding-scale fee. Call (765) 281-4263 for information and fees.
Madison County STD Clinic located at 206 E. 9th St., Anderson. Provides HIV/STI testing at reduced cost. Call (765) 646-9206 for information and fees.
For information on transportation, log onto www.mitsbus.org for their schedule.
For further information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention