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HIV testing ?

What is HIV testing?

HIV testing tells you whether or not you have HIV. Knowing your status is important because it helps you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting HIV.

What we know about HIV testing:

A man checking a woman it at the front desk of an HIV testing clinic

About one in eight people in the United States who have HIV don't know they have it. Getting an HIV test is the only way to know your HIV status. HIV testing is easier, more available, and more accurate than ever. There are many types of HIV tests.

Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or a finger prick, but some use oral fluid or urine. Tests that use blood are even more accurate than other tests. Test results can be ready within as little as 20 minutes to a few days, depending on the type of test.

What you can do

A lab technician drawing a blood sample from a test tube

CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People with certain risk factors should get tested more often.

If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested and answer yes to any of the following questions, you should get an HIV test because these things increase your chances of getting HIV.

  • Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
  • Have you had sex — anal or vaginal — with an HIV-positive partner?
  • Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
  • Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (e.g., water, cotton) with others?
  • Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted disease (STD)?
  • Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
  • Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don't know?

You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months), depending on their risk.

Also, anyone who has been sexually assaulted should get an HIV test as soon as possible after the assault.

Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results. Learn more about how things related to your sexual partner can put you at increased risk for getting or transmitting HIV.