Is the doctor right?

Question

I recently went to a new doctor to have my 3 month HIV test. I had had one encounter of unsafe sex 3 months prior and was waiting the 3 months to have the test. This new doctor informed me that his advice was to always test anonymously (city health clinic etc) because if the test ever came back negative, it would become part of your record and make it difficult to obtain medical insurance in the future. First off, I have never heard of this and secondly, he was definitely not supportive. If anything, he made me feel as if I would be positive. Needless to say, I didn't get the test done and still haven't. Are you familiar with any issues like this?

Answer

It sounds like your doctor is trying to act in your best interest. However, the importance of getting an anonymous test really varies depending on several variables. If you are low-risk and already have health insurance, getting a confidential versus an anonymous test is really a matter of personal preference. When someone is treated for HIV disease at any stage, the information needs to be disclosed to insurance companies anyway.

This is not my area of expertise. Health insurance regulations vary from state to state. It is important that you learn about legal protections HIV infected individuals have in your own state. AIDS service organizations in your area should have information. Some private insurance can reject your insurance application if you have a pre-existing condition. Insurance coverage from large employers does not always require a screening or questionnaire for eligibility.

It is very difficult in most states to obtain insurance after an AIDS diagnosis. It is vital that people, especially those in high risk populations, maintain their current health insurance or find coverage. That is easier said than done with the soaring costs of insurance in this country.

If you have easy access to free and anonymous testing, you might as well use it. I support the use and availability of anonymous testing to individuals.

RMK