The only way to tell if you’ve been infected with HIV is to be tested. You should consider taking an HIV test if
- you are a man who has had sex with other men;
- you have shared injection needles or other equipment;
- you have had sex with one or more partners whose sex and drug-using behaviors are unknown to you;
- you have had sex with someone who is infected with HIV or who falls into one of the above groups;
- you or your partner are pregnant or considering pregnancy (early treatment can help to protect babies of HIV-infected mothers from being born with HIV)
An HIV test can be done using either a blood or an oral specimen. Anonymous (no names) and confidential testing is available; it’s your choice. It may be done at a doctor’s office, a public health department, a community agency or an outreach testing site. Regardless of where you are tested, it is important that you discuss what the test means with a trained counselor both before and after the test is done.
A positive test result means you are infected. Knowing lets you make choices about how to protect your health, as well as the health of others. New treatments, too, can help you stay healthy longer. A negative result usually means you are not infected. However, if you have engaged in any behavior that could spread the virus within three months of having the test, antibodies to the virus may not be detectable and you should be retested in three to six months to be sure you are not infected.