VA Portland Health Care System
National HIV Testing Day
Wednesday, June 27th is National HIV Testing Day
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults should be tested for HIV as part of their routine medical care. The VA agrees that HIV testing should be a part of routine medical care – even for those Veterans who do not think they have risk factors. Like many other diseases, it is better to diagnose and treat HIV early, rather than late. Today we are fortunate that there are many effective treatments to offer persons who are found to be infected with HIV.
Should you get tested?
Yes, public health experts now recommend that all adults should be routinely tested for HIV infection.
In the past, doctors and other health care providers usually only tested for HIV if patients had symptoms that might indicate an immune deficiency or if there was something in the their medical history that suggested they might be at increased risk for the virus.
Your Primary Care Provider may ask you if you would like to be tested for HIV at your next appointment or a Veteran can request an HIV test at any time. Be Smart: Get tested at your next regularly scheduled visit.
Would you know whether you're infected with HIV without getting tested?
No. The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. Although some people do have a flulike illness around the time they get infected, many do not. Also, even if you have a flulike illness from HIV, it's usually pretty difficult to tell it apart from ... the flu. So, even people who have the symptoms of HIV infection may think they just have the flu.
Many HIV-infected people, including those with AIDS, don't feel or look sick in any way. They find out that they are HIV infected only when they get tested. Sometimes this testing is done as part of routine health exams, like getting your cholesterol checked. Other times, people get tested only when they suddenly become seriously ill with a life-threatening infection, and their doctors need to know whether the infection is a result of a weakened immune system caused by HIV.
Getting tested for HIV is crucial for protecting your health. It's better to find out you are HIV infected when your immune system is still relatively healthy, so that you can start taking medications to control the virus before it makes you sick. Also, finding out you are HIV infected allows you to take steps to avoid infecting your sex partners.
For more information go to http://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/index.asp