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National HIV Testing Day is June 27 by Chris Wade, HIV Care Connect Project Coordinator

BENEFITS OF KNOWING YOUR HIV STATUS

Everyone has a HIV status, and knowing your HIV status will help you plan for the future. If you test negative for HIV, you can take steps to help you remain HIV negative. If you test positive for HIV, you can seek medical treatment earlier, gain access to HIV care, treatment, and support, as well as reduce the risk of passing the virus to others.

SHOULD I BE TESTED FOR HIV?

Anyone who thinks they might have put themselves at risk for HIV should consider being tested. HIV antibody testing detects antibodies in the blood. The antibodies show that the virus is present in the body and that the immune system has tried to fight it.

AVAILABILITY OF TESTING

Confidential testing and anonymous testing are available to anyone who requests it. Testing is available at health departments, doctor’s offices, community-based organizations, and other private and non-profit clinics. Health departments may offer testing at a minimal charge, but no fee is charged for those who cannot afford it. For Illinois testing sites, use the interactive map at (www.hivcareconnect.com) or text IL plus your ZIP code to 36363.

HOW DO HIV TESTS WORK?

Most HIV tests currently performed in the United States are antibody tests. This testing procedure isolates the antibody to HIV and not the virus itself.

A type of test that is becoming more commonly used is a fourth-generation HIV test. These types of tests are only available for testing blood and detect both HIV antibodies and the virus itself. Fourth-generation tests can detect recent HIV infection earlier than tests that only search for antibodies.

A finger-stick collection test kit has been developed for home use and is intended for use by persons who wish to anonymously determine their HIV status at home.

The oral collection device draws antibodies out of the cheek and gum.

A rapid test for detecting antibodies to HIV is a screening test that produces very quick results, usually in a matter of minutes. It can detect HIV antibodies through a small droplet of blood from a finger stick, venipuncture whole blood, plasma or oral fluid samples. Results are provided in less than an hour.

I AM PREGNANT—SHOULD I BE TESTED FOR HIV?

It is very important that you are tested for HIV during your pregnancy. If you are pregnant and you test positive for HIV you can take actions to prevent your baby from becoming infected with HIV.

Illinois law requires all pregnant women to be tested for STDs, including HIV, at their initial prenatal care visit and again at 28-32 weeks, unless they refuse. Women who appear at delivery with no record of a HIV test during pregnancy should be tested. If a woman declines HIV testing, the provider will have her sign a refusal form.

ARE MY HIV TEST RESULTS CONFIDENTIAL?

Test results are kept private in two different ways: confidential and anonymous. Confidential testing means that the person’s name and test results are kept in their private medical file. Anonymous testing means a person is given a number when being tested, and the person can only be identified by that number. No name is recorded. Both types of testing protect an individual’s information from being disclosed, under penalty of law.

Chris wadeChris Wade, HIV Care Connect Project Coordinator

Illinois Public Health Association, HIV Care Connect

CWade@ipha.com

(309) 453-9042 mobile

www.hivcareconnect.com

HIV Care Connect is a program of the Illinois Public Health Association and is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health