HIV is a serious sexually transmitted virus that, if left untreated, can progress into AIDS, an even more serious and often deadly disease. Fortunately, however, HIV and even AIDS treatments and therapies have come a long way, and those who do have the virus or even the disease are still able to live long, healthy, and productive lives. The key to being able to stay alive and in good health for the long-term, however, is early diagnosis and treatment. The sooner a person realizes he or she has HIV, the better the outcome is likely to be. Furthermore, knowing of the presence of the virus can help people to prevent spreading it to their partners. The only way to know for sure if HIV is present, however, is to undergo testing.
Peace of Mind
While it is true that absolutely anyone can contract HIV, there are definitely some people who fall into “high risk” categories, such as sex workers, men who engage in sex with other men and their male and female partners, intravenous drug users, and others who are more likely than the average person to be exposed to the virus. People both in and out of these categories often spend many years worrying and wondering about whether or not they have HIV. It is always better and safer for everyone to know for sure, and HIV testing can provide help, support, and education no matter what the outcome of the test.
Does Condom Use = Safety?
Many people think they are protected from HIV through the use of condoms. While condoms are highly effective at preventing the spread of HIV, they are not foolproof. This is especially true when condoms are not used correctly and consistently. It is also possible for HIV to be spread through sexual contact that does not include intercourse. For these reasons, even those who use condoms are advised to get tested if they think they may have been exposed to HIV or fall into one of the high risk groups associated with the virus.
These days, there are many different options for HIV testing and even different types of testing. Some tests can detect the presence of HIV much more quickly than others. Speaking with a healthcare practitioner is a good way to determine one’s risk for HIV and the smartest testing route. Results can typically be given rather quickly, depending on the type of testing used and the testing venue chosen.
Getting tested is a big step, and waiting for the results can be somewhat harrowing. However, it’s important to remember that getting tested, no matter what the outcome, is a wise choice. If a person does not have HIV, he or she can then take steps to reduce the risk of contracting the virus; most healthcare practitioners can provide education and information on lessening the spread of HIV. If a person does have HIV, he or she can immediately learn about and choose options that could prevent the virus from progressing into AIDS.
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