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Under what circumstances should a person be tested for HIV?

Jun 25, 1999

You have many articles on your site as to when testing for HIV is *NOT* appropriate. Under what conditions is testing for HIV appropriate?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Generally speaking, testing for HIV is recommended if:

1) you have had unprotected vaginal intercourse with a person who may be infected (or is known to be infected) with HIV.

2) you have had unprotected anal intercourse with a person who may be infected (or is known to be infected) with HIV.

3) you were giving oral sex to a person who may be infected (or is known to be infected) with HIV.

4) you had intercourse, or gave a person oral sex, while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, poppers, and other recreational drugs. These drugs affect your judgment, which makes you less likely to practice safer sex, or less likely to use condoms correctly.

5) you were having sex with a condom, but you did not use the condom correctly, or the condom broke, or it fell off.

6) you were sharing needles (IV, tattoo, etc.) with a person who may be infected (or is known to be infected) with HIV.

7) you have been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.

8) you have been diagnosed with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HTLV-I/II (these viruses are transmitted in ways that are similar to HIV).

9) you received a blood transfusion, especially if you received the blood prior to the screening of the blood supply. In the USA, screening began in March of 1985. Many other "Western" countries began screening their blood supply soon after that. Screening the blood supply began at different times in different countries.

10) your doctor tells you that you have (or may have) an opportunistic disease.

11) your doctor tells you that your symptoms are suggestive of HIV/AIDS (keeping in mind that other illnesses may be causing your symptoms).

12) you take our interactive HIV/STD risk assessment survey, and the survey results suggest that you may be at risk for HIV and other STDs.

13) you have had an occupational exposure to blood (for example a healthcare worker who has a needlestick injury).

14) you are pregnant (HIV testing is now recommended as a routine test for ALL pregnant women).

15) a child is born to a mother known to have HIV, or known to be at risk for HIV. This also includes children who breast fed from a woman known to have HIV, or known to be at risk for HIV.

16) another persons blood, semen, or vaginal secretions had a direct access to your bloodstream within minutes of leaving the other persons body.

Under certain circumstances, HIV testing may be mandatory, regardless of a persons risk (for example screening the blood supply). Mandatory HIV testing laws vary significantly from state to state, from province to province, and from country to country. Contact your local health department for more information about mandatory testing laws where you live.

More detailed information about the risks for HIV and other STDs can be found throughout this website. If you may be at risk for HIV (based on what you have read here), HIV testing is recommended.

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

When is testing recommended for people at low risk?
National HIV Testing Day

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