Get an HIV Test
One of the reasons that so many people get infected is that one out of every five Americans who is HIV-positive is unaware of his or her infection. If there is a chance that you could be one of those people, could you live with yourself if you later realized that you had unknowingly passed along a potentially life-threatening virus when all it would have taken was a simple HIV test to learn your status?
An HIV test looks for antibodies that are generated in the body as a response to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus can weaken the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infections. When someone has one or more of these infections and a low number of T cells, he or she has AIDS.
Getting an HIV test is a responsible, caring act. If the HIV test is positive, you can take the necessary precautions to prevent spreading the virus to others as well as get medical care that can improve the quality and length of your life. If the HIV test is negative, you can breathe easier, but also use the experience as a wake-up call to stop engaging in potentially risky behaviors.
I Did This!
Anyone who is at risk for exposure to HIV should get an HIV test. Some HIV risk factors, according to the National Institutes of Health, include:
To get an HIV test, contact your doctor. Or, find a local testing center by calling 800-342-AIDS, searching http://www.hivtest.org, or contacting your local health department to find out where you can get tested in your area. Rapid tests can yield results in as little as 20 minutes, while results from traditional tests are ready in about a week. If you're worried about the potential cost of getting tested, free HIV tests are available from many community clinics.
If you don't have time to go to a clinic, don't live near one, or would be embarrassed to take a test in person, it is also possible to take a home HIV test. It is important to know, though, that only the Home Access Express HIV-1 Test System from Home Access Health Corporation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. No other tests have been proven reliable indicators of HIV infection. This home HIV test is available at most drugstores and can also be ordered online.
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