What some people call the "AIDS" test is not a test for AIDS at all. Instead, it is a test for antibodies to the virus that causes AIDS, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The immune system reacts to HIV infection by producing antibodies that fight HIV. The test detects these antibodies. Therefore, the test is accurately called the "HIV antibody test."
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
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?
Open Door Health Services testing site is located at 905 S Walnut St, Muncie. Provides HIV and STI testing on a sliding-scale fee. Call (765) 281-4263 for information and fees.
Planned Parenthood located at 3550 N Fox Ridge Lane, Muncie. Provides HIV and STI testing. Call (765) 282-8011 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
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