Our friends from the City of Austin HIV Prevention Program are back with some important information pertaining to HIV and STI testing for ya! This is their third blog for us, so after you get done memorizing every word of this one, be sure to check out their other two pieces. As many of you know, we are seeing a significant rise in HIV infections among gay men nationwide. So hopefully we can help raise some awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, and scientific developments with the help of the City of Austin HIV Prevention Program!
It can be nerve wracking to get tested for HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) for the first time. It is a scary feat to travel to a place you’ve never been, sit with a stranger, and answer a battery of questions about your sex life. To put your mind at ease, make sure you are armed with good information so you know what to expect!
Let’s start at the beginning. Where can you go to get tested? A simple Google search may be more accurate for your area, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC for short!) has a search engine to find FREE, FAST, and CONFIDENTIAL testing. Another option is to search for your local Health Department on the National Association of County and City Health Official’s website (That’s NACCHO for short…that’s not a joke!)
Once you’ve chosen a testing location, now it’s time to be bold and head in to take care of your sexual health. A provider or counselor will sit with you and ask you a few questions about your sexual practices. It may seem embarrassing at first, but they need to know a few things to assess your risk level. The reasoning behind this is to give you tailored health advice about how to practice safe sex for you. This is also the chance to ask all those questions about things you’ve heard from friends, movies and the internet about HIV! Check out this BuzzFeed article about debunked HIV myths.
Next, the provider or counselor will either draw blood or perform an oral swab. Based on your last possible exposure to HIV, the provider or counselor will determine what type of HIV test is needed. Most agencies utilize Rapid HIV technology which tests for HIV antibodies in the blood. This test usually only takes 15 minutes to run and you will get your results the same day you go in! That’s fast!
The provider may send your blood sample for additional testing if your last possible exposure to HIV is outside the window period. To learn more about the different types of HIV tests check out AVERT.
For more information about the HIV testing process, check out the CDC’s website where they have a nifty page about HIV basics.
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed on our Artist Corner and Blog are exclusively of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of Punk Out as an organization.