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Why test for HIV

Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. It's normal to feel worried about HIV. But testing for HIV can put your mind at ease and reduce the anxiety of not knowing.

Many people do not have any symptoms and can live for many years without knowing they have the virus. But being diagnosed early means you can start treatment, which will help you live a long and healthy life.

Getting tested for HIV is quick, easy, painless, confidential, and almost always free. Test for HIV regularly to keep yourself and your partners healthy.

Why should I get tested for HIV?

You should get tested if you:

  • have had unprotected sex
  • have recently been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • have shared needles or other injecting equipment
  • are pregnant or planning to get pregnant
  • are worried about HIV and want to put your mind at ease.

Even if you think you probably don’t have HIV, the quickest way to stop worrying is by taking a test.

Who should get tested?

HIV doesn’t only affect certain groups of people. So, if you have sex, test regularly for HIV, even if you use condoms and don’t think you have been at risk.

Do I need to test if I’m in a relationship?

HIV test results only apply to the person who took the test. You and your partner may have different HIV statuses, even if you have been having sex without a condom. It’s important you both get tested. It’s good practice to get tested at the start of a new relationship.

How will testing for HIV help me?

If you’re negative, you can get more information on how to stay that way. If you’re positive you can start treatment to make sure that you stay healthy.

How will testing for HIV help my sexual partners?

Knowing your status means that you can look after the sexual health of your partners too. You can take steps to stop passing on HIV if either of you are positive.

What if I’m scared?

Lots of people feel scared like you. But knowing if you have HIV or don’t is better than not knowing at all because you can then take action to stay healthy. The healthcare provider will talk you through the test to help reduce your fears.

Who will know my test results?

The results of your HIV test will be private between you and your healthcare provider. Nobody will know unless you tell them.

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What stops people from testing?

People may not test for HIV because:

  • they don’t think they have been at risk
  • they fear the test procedure
  • they fear knowing the test results
  • they worry about stigma if they test positive
  • they worry about dying if they test positive.

How can I explain the importance of testing for HIV to someone?

If you need to explain to someone why it is important to test for HIV, consider each point below.

If someone doesn’t think they have been at risk of HIV

If someone is scared of the test procedure

If someone fears knowing their test results

  • Reassure them that their anxiety of not knowing if they have HIV or not will go as soon as they know their status. They can then make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.

If someone is worried about stigma if they test positive

  • Explain that the healthcare provider will not judge them and that the results will be private.

If someone is worried about dying if they test positive

  • Explain that they can start HIV treatment straight away to stay healthy, just like someone without HIV.
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  • Last updated: 18 March 2022
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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