HIV: Getting Past the Fear

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An estimated 1.2 cardinal group successful nan U.S. unrecorded pinch HIV. But investigation shows that galore of them -- astir 13% -- don't cognize it. According to nan CDC, astir 40% of caller HIV infections are transmitted by group who don’t cognize they person nan virus.

There are respective reasons that whitethorn clasp group backmost from getting an HIV test. Fear of illness, stigma, and being discriminated against aliases judged negatively if a trial shows that they person HIV are immoderate of nan obstacles.

But getting a trial is nan first measurement to knowing your status. That’s important accusation that helps you return complaint of your wellness and forestall nan viral infection that tin cause AIDS.

For Kelly Gluckman of Seattle, HIV was nan past point connected her mind erstwhile she stopped utilizing condoms pinch her partner without first getting tested for HIV.

“I knew that that wasn't nan smartest decision,” says Gluckman, now successful her 30s.

She was 23 astatine nan time, and moreover though she knew astir HIV testing done broad sex acquisition successful school, she says arsenic a “white, consecutive female,” she  never saw herself astatine consequence for HIV. But aft astir 6 months of unprotected sex, Gluckman and her partner decided to get tested to norm retired HIV arsenic a precaution.

“We some tested affirmative connected Oct. 25, 2010," Gluckman says. "We were some beautiful devastated,."

“The contiguous thought was, ‘Oh my God, I'm going to die.’ I faced mortality, because ‘HIV turns into AIDS and past you die.’ That's conscionable what had been drilled into maine from what I saw successful nan media, and from what I learned astir successful school,” Gluckman says.

In hindsight, Gluckman says denial played a domiciled successful her and her partner hesitating to get an HIV test.

“We would talk astir going and getting tested and past we conscionable wouldn't do it,” she says.

Many group still thin to person a “scary view" of HIV, says David Pantalone, PhD, professor of psychology astatine University of Massachusetts Boston. He believes it whitethorn person thing to do pinch outdated images and narratives astir HIV from nan '80s.

“I deliberation location isn't a revised nationalist conception of what it's for illustration to person HIV,” Pantalone says. “The logic is because what it looks for illustration to person HIV now is fundamentally nan aforesaid arsenic it looks for illustration to not person HIV. The life expectancy information betwixt HIV-positive folks and HIV-negative folks is not really that different.”

While HIV doesn’t person a cure, nan treatment, antiretroviral therapy (ART), is highly effective. It lowers nan magnitude of HIV microorganism successful your body, aliases your viral load. If you return nan medicine conscionable arsenic your expert tells you to, nan viral load tin go truthful debased that it becomes undetectable connected an HIV test. When this happens, there’s small to nary chance of processing symptoms from nan infection aliases spreading it to others. Usually, you tin bring HIV nether power pinch narcotics successful conscionable nether 6 months.

Gluckman saw affirmative results soon aft she started taking her medication.

“My viral load became undetectable wrong 2 months,” Gluckman says, adding that she had nary broadside effects.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I americium going to live, I tin beryllium patient pinch this thing, pinch this virus.’”

The CDC recommends that everyone betwixt ages 13 to 64 person an HIV trial astatine slightest erstwhile successful their life. Usually, you tin do this during your yearly wellness check-up. If you haven’t had nan test, inquire your expert astir it.

If you’re astatine higher risk, you request to beryllium tested much often: each 3 aliases 6 months to beryllium sure. But Pantalone says nan deficiency of testing besides results from group mistaking that precocious consequence for nan illness “fits wrong an identity” erstwhile it’s a microorganism dispersed by communal quality behavior, for illustration having sex.

“If you've had immoderate condomless activity pinch immoderate person, past you request an HIV test. Even if it's debased risk, you should still do it periodically, because you ne'er know,” Pantalone says.

You're astatine higher consequence for HIV if you tin reply “yes” to immoderate of nan pursuing questions, according to nan CDC:

  • Are you a man who has had activity pinch different man?
  • Have you had activity -- anal aliases vaginal -- pinch personification who has HIV?
  • Have you had much than 1 activity partner since your past HIV test?
  • Have you shared needles, shared injectable drugs, aliases different supplier injection instrumentality pinch others?
  • Have you had activity successful speech for narcotics aliases money?
  • Have you been diagnosed pinch aliases treated for different sexually transmitted diseases?
  • Have you been diagnosed pinch aliases treated for hepatitis aliases tuberculosis (TB)?
  • Have you had activity pinch personification whose intersexual history you’re not alert of?

If immoderate of this applies to you, you tin use from a yearly HIV trial moreover if your past trial was negative.

If you’re pregnant, inquire your expert for an HIV test. If you person HIV erstwhile you get pregnant, show your expert arsenic soon arsenic possible. Your expert tin springiness you nan correct medications to thief you and your baby enactment healthy.

It’s besides bully believe to get tested for HIV and cognize your position earlier you person activity pinch a caller partner for nan first time. It’s ever a bully thought to inquire astir their intersexual and drug-use history earlier you person sex. If you cognize you person HIV, show them your status. If you’re unsure astir you aliases your partner’s HIV status, make judge to deterioration a condom. This tin thief protect your wellness aliases extremity others from getting nan infection.

If you deliberation you’ve been exposed to HIV aliases person what you deliberation whitethorn beryllium symptoms, talk to your expert arsenic soon arsenic possible. Getting an HIV trial aliases talking to your expert astir HIV whitethorn consciousness some awkward and stressful. But coming successful prepared tin thief you woody pinch it better.

Take a database of questions pinch you truthful you tin get nan astir reliable information. This tin thief your expert make a curen scheme if you do person HIV.

Even if you find retired that you don’t person HIV, it's a bully clip to inquire questions and study much astir really you tin thief forestall HIV infection. You whitethorn person heard of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, which tin thief forestall you from getting HIV.   You tin inquire questions like:

  • How tin I protect myself from HIV?
  • How often should I get tested?
  • Does my activity partner besides request a test?
  • Do you connection counseling connected HIV prevention aliases urge a spot that does?

If you don’t want to spell by yourself, inquire a friend aliases family personnel to spell on pinch you for support. If you get a test of HIV, your expert tin constituent you to galore resources to get you nan thief and curen you request to bring nan infection nether control.

If you’re trying to seduce a adjacent friend aliases a loved 1 to get tested for HIV, Pantalone says it whitethorn thief to person them deliberation of really knowing their HIV position aliases getting tested for it tin thief forestall nan dispersed to different group they know.

Stigma and deficiency of due attraction tin beryllium moreover among health care providers .But don't fto that extremity you from getting tested aliases getting preventive attraction aliases treatment.

If you person a spot you spell to for wellness attraction and you want to commencement getting tested for HIV, bring it up pinch your wellness attraction provider. "And if that supplier isn't supportive, past switch,” Pantalone says. “Going to an statement that specifically serves nan HIV organization is simply a awesome measurement to beryllium met pinch unfastened arms and nary judgments.”

If you do trial affirmative for HIV, Gluckman says t’s important to retrieve that you're much than that.

“You are worthy of respect, you are worthy of love, you are worthy of health, you're worthy of bully sex," Gluckman says.  "HIV is conscionable nan virus.”

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