If you are sexually active, especially if you have multiple partners, it's important that you know how to get tested for HIV.
- You might not be sure whether you need to get tested for HIV. Anyone who is sexually active should be tested for HIV every year. You are at increased risk for contracting the virus if you use injected drugs, have unprotected sex with men, or have been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease.
- It's important to get tested at the right time. HIV testing should occur three months after behavior that may have exposed you to the HIV virus, such as unprotected sex. If this test is negative, wait another three months and get tested again. In some cases, it can take up to six months for the HIV antibodies to develop.
- Find the HIV testing center nearest you. You can ask your primary care physician to test you for HIV, or you can call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-800-CDC-INFO to find a testing location.
- There are several different kinds of HIV tests. The most commonly-used test is a blood test called the EIA. Some EIA tests also use saliva or urine. If this test comes out positive for HIV, a follow-up test will be given to confirm the positive diagnosis. A rapid test can give results in as little as twenty minutes, and is available in some locations. An FDA-approved home testing kit, called the Home Access HIV-1 Test System, is also available at some drugstores.
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