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Why do they ask me questions about my risk when I get tested?

Nov 17, 1999

Why do they ask me if I'm an iv drug user, gay, see hookers, or had a blood transfusion when i go to take an AIDS test? Does this determine how many times or how they test your blood gor HIV? Should I say yes to have them test my blood better?

thanks for your reply

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

When a person takes an HIV test, we will very often ask the person their risk factors for HIV before the test is performed. This is done for several reasons:

1) If a person answers indicate that they are at low risk (or no risk) for HIV, then there is no reason for that person to get tested in the first place. We generally do not recommend HIV testing for persons at low risk of infection, since it would be highly unlikely that a low risk person would be infected.

2) When we do HIV testing, we often collect risk factor information to determine if HIV prevention programs are working, and to determine how many people are continuing to put themselves at risk for HIV and other diseases.

3) If a persons answers indicate that they have a drug abuse problem (including alcohol abuse), this gives us a great opportunity to get that person into drug/alcohol treatment programs.

4) If a person is intending to donate blood, we ask a long list of questions to prevent persons at risk for bloodborne diseases (including HIV) from donating. We do not want individuals at risk for bloodborne diseases donating blood, and putting the blood supply at needless risk of infection. If a persons answers indicate that they are at a possible risk of infection for HIV and other bloodborne diseases, they are not permitted to donate blood.

For routine blood testing (not including blood donations), answering "yes" to any of these questions will not affect what tests they run, how they run the tests, nor how fast you get your results.

For blood donations, answering "yes" to these questions may prohibit you from donating blood.

Whether you are being asked these questions for routine HIV testing, or for blood donations, please be honest when answering these questions.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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