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Everyone Needs Lab Tests

If you are living with HIV, lab tests are one of the most important ways you and your healthcare provider can monitor your health. They can help you:

  • Decide when to start drugs to treat HIV and other infections;

  • Determine whether or not the drugs are working;

  • Determine if the drugs are causing certain side effects;

  • Watch for other infections and problems associated with HIV infection.

Lab tests come in many different forms. Some require blood samples, while others require urine or stool (feces) samples. Each sample can then be used to conduct a wide range of lab tests, depending on your healthcare provider's orders. A Pap smear, which scrapes cells from the wall of the cervix (and sometimes the anus), is another type of important laboratory test.

This brochure has been produced by the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) to help you better understand the different types of lab tests commonly recommended by healthcare providers. With this information, we hope that you will be able to talk with your healthcare provider about your lab results in order to better understand your health. Perhaps you'll start keeping copies of your lab reports to monitor your health. Or maybe this brochure will simply help you understand why your doctor, nurse, or laboratory specialist needs to take so many tubes of blood!