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pro Vs. cons of getting tested?
Jan 12, 1998

I have had many partners over the last 7 years I have been tested 3 years ago but recently I have had unprotected sexual contact but not penatration.I also had sex with a man and a woman and the man used a condom. Could I be at risk? And if I dont get tested how could this effect me in the future> PLZ help!!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi,

Thank you for your question. If a person has put themselves at risk of HIV infection (through unprotected vaginal intercourse, unprotected anal intercourse, giving oral sex, sharing needles, etc. etc.), then getting tested is certainly in that persons best interest. The following are some of the pros and cons of getting tested. As you will see, there are many benefits of getting tested, if you have put yourself at risk of infection.

PROS:

1) If a person gets tested after an exposure, and they find out that they do not have HIV, their fears should be greatly reduced (or eliminated). They would not have to worry about whether they have HIV or not. Learning that one is not infected can greatly reduce (or eliminate) fear and anxiety.

2) If a person has severe or ongoing symptoms, and their tests show that they do not have HIV, at least they will know what is NOT the cause of their symptoms. This could then help a physician look at other possible causes of a persons symptoms.

3) If a person gets tested, and they find out that they have HIV, they are more likely to practice safer sex and/or not share needles with another person; they are then less likely to expose others to the virus.

4) If a person gets tested, and they find out that they have HIV, they are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle can help an HIV positive person live a longer, and healthier life.

5) If a person gets tested, and they find out that they have HIV, they are more likely to seek medical treatment sooner. Generally speaking, the sooner that treatment begins, the more effective it is at slowing down the progression of the disease. Starting treatment after there is significant damage to the immune system (usually years after infection), is not as effective, as starting treatment earlier on.

CONS:

1) For some people, getting tested can be an extremely stressful thing to do. In cases such as this, the person may wish to seek counseling to help them deal with that stress.

2) For persons at little or no risk of infection, testing is a waste of time and money. Testing is best suited for persons at a realistic risk of infection.

3) If a person gets tested, and they find out that they have HIV, this can make a person very depressed, and understandably so. However, there are many support groups and counseling services, to help a person cope with their HIV positive status.

If you have put yourself at risk of infection, I strongly suggest you consider getting tested, to determine whether you are infected or not. If a person is scared of being tested for fears of confidentiality issues, discrimination, etc., keep in mind that in the USA and other countries, there are laws specifically protecting the confidentiality of a persons medical information; there are also laws specifically prohibiting discrimination based on a persons disability (which can include AIDS, cancer, diabetes, etc.).

By the way, these same pros and cons of testing, apply to other health problems as well. If a person has put themselves at risk for other sexually transmitted diseases, other bloodborne diseases, etc., testing for these other diseases is just as important. Also, if a person is showing symptoms of illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, etc., early detection and prompt treatment is very important for the treatment of these diseases as well.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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