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5 reasons to re-test for HIV today

Caitlin Mahon

03 September 2018

Whether you’ve had unprotected sex or it’s just that time of year again, here are our top 5 reasons why you should test for HIV again.

A still from a video about reasons to retest for HIV, a young man smiles while text reads "retest every three to six months"
Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

Testing for HIV is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health – but did you know that it’s recommended that sexually active gay men re-test every three to six months?

So whether you’ve had unprotected sex or it’s just that time of year again, here are our top 5 reasons why you should test again.

Testing regularly keeps you in the know

Testing regularly will mean that your results stay up-to-date and you can be rest assured.

Because you are on PrEP, or are considering taking PrEP

PrEP should only be taken by people who are HIV-negative – to prevent you getting HIV. If you’re (unknowingly) HIV-positive and take PrEP it can make finding treatment options more difficult in the future. So if you’re considering taking PrEP it’s even more important to know your status before you start. If you’re already on PrEP, remember that it’s important to have regular STI and HIV check-ups, just to make sure.

Testing means you can get onto meds quicker and stay in control

By testing regularly, you can get onto HIV treatment straight away if you test HIV-positive. Starting treatment as soon as possible after infection reduces damage to your immune system, meaning you can live a long and healthy life. Getting onto and staying on effective treatment will also help to protect your partner, or any future partners from HIV; this is because treatment reduces the amount of virus in your body. Many people living with HIV can now achieve an ‘undetectable’ viral load – meaning treatment has reduced the virus to such low levels that they absolutely cannot pass on HIV to their partners: Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U). So why wait?

Testing has never been easier – so why not make it routine?

In lots of countries self-testing has been given the green light – so you can even test in the privacy of your own home. Just remember, if you’re using a self-test, ensure it has a ‘CE’ or ‘FDA’ mark on it. That way, you’ll know that the tests are regulated and work properly. Follow the instructions, and if you do get an HIV-positive result, get a follow up test to double check the result. Even if you are not self-testing, the whole process is quick and easy. Just search for your nearest testing facility, and wherever you are you’ll be able to find a place to get a quick and confidential test that’s almost always free.

Regular testing keeps you feeling body confident and in control of your health

Regularly testing for HIV can keep you happy and healthy. But let’s be honest, lots of people don’t test because they are too scared of the result. Being HIV-positive is nothing to be ashamed of, you can still have an active and healthy sex life, and your life expectancy is now the same as anyone else! But this is only if you test, and get onto treatment. And if you’re negative – well – you can move on…So make regular testing part of your routine today.

Check out Avert’s sexual health resources for gay men, created in collaboration with Hornet.

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