Why should I get tested for HIV?

If HIV is in your blood, you can fight it.  


By: Ann Avery, MD, Infectious Disease Physician at MetroHealth Medical Center

If the virus is detected early enough and you stay on the meds your doctor prescribes, you can stay healthy and strong for decades. Meds also can dramatically reduce the quantity of HIV in your system, making it much less likely that you’ll give it to somebody else.

The only way to find out if you have HIV is to get tested.

Testing will help:

  • Ease your mind if you’re HIV-negative
  • Provide guidelines on what to do next if you’re HIV-positive.

You can’t even be sure about unprotected sex. HIV infections don’t necessarily happen every time a person with HIV neglects to use a condom. There’s a high risk but not a certain risk.  That’s why testing is the only way to be sure.

Use your best judgment. You know what sexual or drug-using behaviors you’ve engaged in. You’re at a higher risk for HIV infection if:

  • You’re a man who has sex with other men.
  • You’ve shared needles while injecting drugs.
  • You are a human being who has sex and sometimes doesn’t use condoms.



It’s normal to be afraid of finding out you have HIV. But think about any time you were afraid of something and how you learned to get over that fear. You do it by facing your fears and learning to manage your risks.

Imagine if it were your job to fix the telephone wires in your neighborhood. You’d be scared to go 30 feet up in that bucket at first, but once you’d done the job a few times, you’d learn how to deal with the fear and reduce the risks.

Knowing what you’re dealing with is how you overcome fear. This is especially true with HIV.

Lots of people have unprotected sex and wake up the next morning wondering, “what should I do if my partner had HIV?”

Before they know it, their wondering turns to worry, worry turns to anxiety, anxiety turns to fear. Fear can hold people back from achieving everything they want.


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Getting tested keeps this pattern of fear from taking over your life.

You might be thinking, “I keep putting off getting tested. What if I find out I’ve got AIDS?”

Well, even your HIV infection has moved to the AIDS stage, there’s a lot doctors can do to fight the disease and extend your life.

But you’ll never know how far along the disease is if you don’t get tested. HIV can be in your system up to 10 years before it progresses to AIDS. HIV/AIDS is much more treatable than you may think.

No matter how long you’ve put it off, it’s still better to get tested.

It’s helpful to remember there are just four bodily fluids you can come into contact with that could expose you to HIV:

  1. Blood
  2. Semen (cum)
  3. Vaginal secretions
  4. Breast Milk

And there are only 3 ways people can be infected with HIV:

  1. Sex (Without a condom, anal sex is riskiest, followed by vaginal, then oral)
  2. Sharing needles
  3. An HIV+ mom can pass HIV along to her baby,.

If none of these things happen, you can’t become HIV-positive.

If you think there’s even a remote chance you could have been exposed to HIV, why not find out?

The only way to know for sure is to get tested.



Positive Peers is made possible through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) Grant to The MetroHealth System. Click here for more information about the SPNS grant initiative.
Positive Peers is a private app for young people living with HIV. Learn how you can earn rewards for your participation.