HIV: Getting Past the Fear

An estimated 1.2 million folks within the U.S. reside with HIV. However analysis exhibits that a lot of them — about 13% — do not know it. In response to the CDC, practically 40% of latest HIV infections are transmitted by individuals who don’t know they’ve the virus.

There are a number of causes that will maintain folks again from getting an HIV take a look at. Concern of sickness, stigma, and being discriminated towards or judged negatively if a take a look at exhibits that they’ve HIV are a number of the obstacles.

However getting a take a look at is step one to figuring out your standing. That’s essential info that helps you are taking cost of your well being and forestall the viral infection that may cause AIDS.

For Kelly Gluckman of Seattle, HIV was the very last thing on her thoughts when she stopped utilizing condoms together with her associate with out first getting examined for HIV.

“I knew that that wasn’t the neatest resolution,” says Gluckman, now in her 30s.

She was 23 on the time, and regardless that she knew about HIV testing by means of complete sex schooling in class, she says as a “white, straight feminine,” she  by no means noticed herself in danger for HIV. However after about 6 months of unprotected intercourse, Gluckman and her associate determined to get examined to rule out HIV as a precaution.

“We each examined optimistic on Oct. 25, 2010,” Gluckman says. “We have been each fairly devastated,.”

“The quick thought was, ‘Oh my God, I will die.’ I confronted mortality, as a result of ‘HIV turns into AIDS and you then die.’ That is simply what had been drilled into me from what I noticed within the media, and from what I discovered about in class,” Gluckman says.

In hindsight, Gluckman says denial performed a task in her and her associate hesitating to get an HIV take a look at.

“We might speak about going and getting examined after which we simply would not do it,” she says.

Many individuals nonetheless are likely to have a “scary view” of HIV, says David Pantalone, PhD, professor of psychology at College of Massachusetts Boston. He believes it could have one thing to do with outdated photographs and narratives about HIV from the ’80s.

“I feel there is not a revised public conception of what it is wish to have HIV,” Pantalone says. “The reason being as a result of what it seems to be wish to have HIV now could be principally the identical because it seems to be wish to not have HIV. The life expectancy knowledge between HIV-positive people and HIV-negative people just isn’t actually that totally different.”

Whereas HIV doesn’t have a treatment, the therapy, antiretroviral remedy (ART), is very efficient. It lowers the quantity of HIV virus in your physique, or your viral load. For those who take the drugs simply as your physician tells you to, the viral load can turn into so low that it turns into undetectable on an HIV test. When this occurs, there’s little to no likelihood of creating signs from the an infection or spreading it to others. Often, you’ll be able to convey HIV underneath management with medicine in slightly below 6 months.

Gluckman noticed optimistic outcomes quickly after she began taking her medicine.

“My viral load turned undetectable inside 2 months,” Gluckman says, including that she had no uncomfortable side effects.

“I assumed, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to reside, I might be wholesome with this factor, with this virus.’”

The CDC recommends that everybody between ages 13 to 64 have an HIV take a look at no less than as soon as of their life. Often, you are able to do this throughout your annual well being check-up. For those who haven’t had the take a look at, ask your physician about it.

For those who’re at greater threat, you could be examined extra usually: each 3 or 6 months to make certain. However Pantalone says the dearth of testing additionally outcomes from folks mistaking that top threat for the illness “matches inside an id” when it’s a virus unfold by frequent human habits, like having intercourse.

“For those who’ve had any condomless intercourse with any particular person, you then want an HIV take a look at. Even when it is low threat, you must nonetheless do it periodically, since you by no means know,” Pantalone says.

You are at greater threat for HIV in case you can reply “sure” to any of the next questions, in accordance with the CDC:

  • Are you a person who has had intercourse with one other man?
  • Have you ever had intercourse — anal or vaginal — with somebody who has HIV?
  • Have you ever had a couple of intercourse associate since your final HIV take a look at?
  • Have you ever shared needles, shared injectable medicine, or different drug injection tools with others?
  • Have you ever had intercourse in change for medicine or cash?
  • Have you ever been identified with or handled for different sexually transmitted ailments?
  • Have you ever been identified with or handled for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
  • Have you ever had intercourse with somebody whose sexual historical past you’re not conscious of?

If any of this is applicable to you, you’ll be able to profit from a yearly HIV take a look at even when your final take a look at was damaging.

For those who’re pregnant, ask your physician for an HIV take a look at. When you’ve got HIV while you get pregnant, inform your physician as quickly as doable. Your physician can provide the proper drugs that will help you and your baby keep wholesome.

It’s additionally good apply to get examined for HIV and know your standing earlier than you could have intercourse with a brand new associate for the primary time. It’s all the time a good suggestion to ask about their sexual and drug-use historical past earlier than you could have intercourse. If you recognize you could have HIV, inform them your standing. For those who’re not sure about you or your associate’s HIV standing, be certain to put on a condom. This may help defend your well being or cease others from getting the an infection.

For those who suppose you’ve been uncovered to HIV or have what you suppose could also be signs, discuss to your physician as quickly as doable. Getting an HIV take a look at or speaking to your physician about HIV could really feel each awkward and nerve-racking. However coming in ready may help you take care of it higher.

Take a listing of questions with you so you may get probably the most dependable info. This may help your physician make a therapy plan in case you do have HIV.

Even in case you discover out that you just don’t have HIV, it is a good time to ask questions and study extra about how one can assist stop HIV an infection. You could have heard of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, which may help stop you from getting HIV.   You may ask questions like:

  • How can I defend myself from HIV?
  • How usually ought to I get examined?
  • Does my intercourse associate additionally want a take a look at?
  • Do you provide counseling on HIV prevention or advocate a spot that does?

For those who don’t wish to go by your self, ask a good friend or member of the family to go together with you for assist. For those who get a analysis of HIV, your physician can level you to many assets to get you the assistance and therapy you could convey the an infection underneath management.

For those who’re making an attempt to steer a detailed good friend or a liked one to get examined for HIV, Pantalone says it could assist to have them consider how figuring out their HIV standing or getting examined for it could actually assist stop the unfold to different folks they know.

Stigma and lack of correct care can exist even amongst health care suppliers .However do not let that cease you from getting examined or getting preventive care or therapy.

When you’ve got a spot you go to for well being care and also you wish to begin getting examined for HIV, convey it up along with your well being care supplier. “And if that supplier is not supportive, then change,” Pantalone says. “Going to a company that particularly serves the HIV group is a good way to be met with open arms and no judgments.”

For those who do take a look at optimistic for HIV, Gluckman says t’s essential to keep in mind that you are greater than that.

“You might be worthy of respect, you’re worthy of love, you’re worthy of well being, you are worthy of fine intercourse,” Gluckman says.  “HIV is simply the virus.”


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