NOT READY TO TEST?
There are all sorts of reasons why you may be reluctant to test for HIV. Doing something new can be scary. If you think you might have HIV it’s really normal to feel anxious about getting tested. Remember, most people living with HIV are leading full and active lives. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can access treatment. Getting on treatment early is the best thing you can do for your health if you are diagnosed with HIV. If you feel you need support at the test, you are welcome to bring a partner, friend or whānau.
It’s understandable to be nervous about getting tested – especially if you think you might test positive for HIV. Just remember, you are not the first person to be in this situation.
Many people have been through the worry of thinking they may test positive and, in some cases, they were right. It is always better to know your HIV status than be wondering and waiting. That way you can take action and get onto treatment early. The longer you wait to find out your status, the more of a chance that HIV will have an adverse effect on your health.
Around 40% of people living with HIV won’t have obvious symptoms. There are no unique symptoms that everyone will experience when they first become infected with HIV, and the majority of the symptoms can be easily confused with other illnesses, such as a cold or the flu.
It can take up to 10 years for any clear symptoms of HIV to appear, at which point it is likely your immune system will have been seriously damaged and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) may have developed.
Statistics from Australia suggest that around 25% of gay and bi identified guys who test positive for HIV are in a relationship. There's any number of reasons for why this might be the case. Even though it’s a sensitive subject, open conversations about sex outside the relationship are really important to keep everyone safe. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, if you are sexually active getting tested twice a year is the recommended minimum.
Find out more about staying safe while you are in a relationship here.
There are over 20 rapid HIV testing locations around the country. Many of them are located discreetly. It’s up to you to choose where you will get tested. All HIV tests are carried out by trained professionals, and covered by privacy laws. There is no chance that your results will be made public.
You also have the option of testing anonymously. Tell the person taking your test that this is what you want to do, and a number rather than a name will be used to identify your results.
Are you comfortable disclosing all of your sexual activity to your doctor? If the answer is no, your doctor might not have all the information they need to properly assess your risk of HIV. If you are confused or unsure about any of the advice that you are receiving from your GP get in touch with the NZAF.