HIV Test: With most medical conditions, ignorance is not bliss. On the contrary, to be armed with knowledge is always best. HIV testing is crucial in combatting the spread of the disease. Knowing one’s HIV status is important not only to protect oneself but to also protect others. The effectiveness of HIV prevention initiatives lies in all of us knowing our HIV status.

Getting an HIV test should be part of one’s regular health check-up, and if one is sexually active it’s recommended to get tested at least once a year.

The early symptoms of HIV are a sign that the body’s immune system has detected an infection.  This indicates that one’s body is trying to resist the virus. The sooner one is diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be. A specialist HIV doctor will ensure that one will receive the most appropriate treatment. With correct disease management, HIV is no longer the life-threatening illness it once was.

When one decides to be tested, the concern of the outcome may well be daunting, especially in situations whereby protection has not been used, a condom has broken or if one has been raped. Sexual intercourse with a sex worker is one of the highest risk sexual activities there are.

The HIV test is designed to detect antibodies to HIV in one’s blood or saliva. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body when one has an infection and they help to fight it. If one is infected with HIV, one’s body makes very specific antibodies to fight the infection. The HIV antibodies are different from antibodies for other infections. If one has HIV antibodies, then one has been infected with HIV. The HIV test does not indicate whether one has AIDS or for how long one has been infected, or even how sick one might be. It just indicates whether the virus is present.

Although one may feel awkward and embarrassed, the medical profession is trained to keep information completely confidential and not to share it without one’s consent. The clinical staff are generally friendly and non- judgemental. It is best to share one’s symptoms openly with the health care professional to be accurately tested.