Learning About HIV
Learning About HIV
Brett Grodeck (Author, The First Year - HIV) gives expert video advice on: Will I be given counseling if I'm told I have HIV? and more...
Where can I go to find out if I have HIV?
In 2006 the CDC changed their policies about HIV testing. A long time ago there were a lot of regulations and rules about who could test, when, and what circumstances. That has all changed just last year. If you go to a hospital now for any kind of visit, you probably will be tested for HIV. You may learn that you're HIV positive in an emergency room, you may learn it from your doctor, you might take an at-home HIV test or you might take a test at a social service agency or an STD clinic. All those settings are places where HIV testing will be offered.
Will I be given counseling if I'm told I have HIV?
One of the biggest changes that the CDC has made about HIV testing is that pre and post-counseling is no longer required as part of the test process. A lot of times people will get tested, and they may not have access to the information that say a doctor who specializes in HIV has. You may test positive in an emergency room and be given a little bit of information and sent on your way. In the long run, that's a really good policy for the CDC. In the short run, for a person who receives an HIV diagnosis, it can be scary and isolating and be jarring to their life. There is a large and knowledgeable network of people and organizations who can provide accurate information. People need to know that they just need to tap into that network.
Should I get retested if I am told I'm HIV positive?
Yes, absolutely. Depending on the circumstance that you're tested in, it's always wise to have a confirmatory test. However, the HIV tests these days are highly accurate. The chance for a false positive is extremely low. If you do get an HIV test and it is positive, of course you want to follow it up with a health care professional, preferably a doctor who has experience with HIV patients. I think what's more important than getting a second test is finding out how healthy your immune system is and how much the virus has progressed. Those are the two key factors that people should really be concerned about if they receive an HIV diagnosis.