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HIV Testing And Counseling

HIV Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 15:40

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are some frequently asked questions related to HIV and AIDS:

Q: Is infection with HIV the same thing as AIDS?

A: Infection with HIV means the person has been infected with the virus that causes AIDS. This is called HIV positive. AIDS is when a person suffers from diseases like rare cancers and infections that healthy people do not get. However, it often takes several years from the time a person gets HIV to when he or she develops AIDS. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS and many new medications can stop this progression from HIV to AIDS.

Q: My neighbor is HIV-positive. Is it okay to visit him? Can I hug him?

A: HIV is spread primarily through blood, blood products, semen, and vaginal fluids - not casual contact such as hugging, or sharing utensils, towels or a toilet. You do not need to fear getting HIV by having casual contact with someone with the disease.

Q: I've been diagnosed with HIV but I don't want to go to a doctor since I don't think anyone can help me.

A: It's true that modern medicine cannot make the HIV infection go away. However, there is much that can be done to help people with HIV, especially early on. Regular medical monitoring can track how you are doing and new medications can slow the progression of the disease. Vaccines can prevent you from developing diseases like pneumonia. There are counselors and support groups available to help. Remember, you are not alone.

Q: I am interested in a career in nursing but am afraid of getting infected with HIV. Are there precautions?

A: For more than a decade, the healthcare profession has adopted universal precautions that protect healthcare workers. These include wearing gloves and protective goggles when there is risk of exposure to blood and body fluids, properly using and disposing of needles and syringes and other safety measures. While there are still cases of people being accidentally stuck with needles, these efforts have greatly reduced the chances of being infected with HIV and other blood-borne illnesses, such as hepatitis. If you have concerns, talk to a person working in the field.

Q: I think I might have HIV but I'm worried other people will find out if I get tested. What should I do?

A: HIV tests can either be anonymous or confidential. In a confidential test, if the result is positive, the data will be shared with the state but your name will not be shared unless you give permission. In an anonymous test, no one knows your name. To find out if your state has anonymous testing, call the National AIDS Hotline (800-342-AIDS, or 800-342-2437).

 

HIV Testing And Counseling