The Importance of HIV Testing

Jun 01, 2023
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If you’re sexually active, HIV testing should be part of your routine medical care. Learn about who can benefit from testing and how testing can help protect you and your sex partner(s).

You probably know that HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, can attack and weaken your immune system. You may also know that without treatment, this virus can lead to AIDS, a potentially fatal, incurable immunodeficiency disorder.

But you may not realize how prevalent HIV is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.2 million people in the United States live with HIV.

And here’s a truly stunning fact from the CDC: Close to 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who weren’t aware that they’re carrying the virus.

Nobody wants to get HIV. But if you do have it, HIV testing can help you and also protect the people you have sex with. At LocalMD, in Queens, New York, our health care team would like to help you understand why it is so important to make HIV testing a key part of your routine medical care.

Early detection and treatment

HIV testing is a crucial service that can benefit you by detecting the virus early, when it’s most treatable. If testing shows that you have HIV, you can begin receiving HIV treatment with medication known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART can reduce your HIV viral load, which is the amount of HIV virus in your body.

In fact, many people who take ART can reduce their viral load to undetectable levels within about six months. The sooner you start ART, the sooner you can start reducing your viral load and protecting your long-term health. Early treatment can delay the onset of AIDS and may even prevent the disease from developing.

Protecting others

HIV testing also helps protect the person or people you have sex with from becoming infected with HIV. By knowing you carry the virus and practicing safe sex, you can reduce the risk of passing HIV on to others.

If you receive prompt treatment for HIV and commit to regular monitoring, it can also protect your sex partner(s). When ART brings your viral load down to an undetectable level, that means you’re unlikely to transmit the virus to other people.

Who can benefit from HIV testing

You and your care provider can work together to decide when and how often you should receive HIV testing. Generally, yearly testing or more frequent testing may be recommended for you if you:

  • Are a man who has sex with men
  • Have another sexually transmitted infection
  • Have certain medical conditions, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis
  • Have multiple sex partners
  • Have sex with someone who has HIV
  • Share needles or other drug supplies with other people
  • Trade sex for drugs or money
  • Have sex with people you don’t know or who have a high risk of having HIV

If you’re sexually active, HIV testing is a critical part of your medical care. To schedule an appointment for HIV testing or treatment, call our office or book an appointment online.