WHY SHOULD I HAVE AN HIV TEST?
You may say:
- I am not at risk and do not need a test.
- I donít want to know my status because I cannot do anything about it if I am positive anyway.
- I donít want to dieÖI donít want to know.
- I may get infected in the testing procedure so Iíd rather not (note: the soft clicks or needle pricks Ė for the quick rapid test cannot be re-used).
- I am HIV negative and in a committed relationship, therefore my partner will automatically be negative (note: 1 in 4 couples in South Africa are discordant ie. only one of the two in the relationship are infected).
The reasons you should test:
- It is the responsible and right thing to do! Everyone should know their status before going into a new sexual relationship.
- The short pre-test counseling session is informative and you have the opportunity of asking questions.
- Being tested (even if you are not at risk) will help others. If testing becomes commonplace it will help break down the stigma of HIV.
- It will remove the disempowerment that HIV/AIDS can make us feel.
- It will make you feel positive and confident about your future.
- If you are negative, you can protect yourself and stay that way.
What if I test HIV positive?
- Practising safe sex will protect present and future partners from HIV.
- If you are pregnant and HIV+ you can take measures that may help protect your unborn baby from becoming infected.
- It is not the end of your life. It is knowledge! If you have knowledge you have power to make choices and shape your future. It will remove the disempowerment that HIV/AIDS can make us feel.
- You can live for many years if you take care of your immune system. This includes diet, exercise, good sleeping patterns, stress management, getting emotional support and avoiding other infections.
- If your CD4 count is under 200 (ie. your immune system weakens) antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) are available to suppress the virus and prolong your life.
- If your CD4 count is under 200 you qualify for government grants to help you financially.
- You will not be alone. 5 million South Africans have HIV.