The Benefits of a Confidential HIV Test

 By: Tim Leach
There are many reasons why a confidential HIV test may be something to think about.

Sex

We may as well get directly to the point! Whether it is casual, recreational or part of a sincere and deep relationship, sex for you is hopefully enjoyable and an expression of your desire, passion and feelings for another person. Unfortunately, HIV (and other sexually transmitted diseases or 'STDs') just can't be thought about in the same positive terms. They can be transmitted during various forms of sexual activity and it's advisable to take the subject seriously.

Since the 1980s and society's first awareness of the problem, HIV has often been discussed in terms of sex. It's worth keeping in mind though, that it can also be passed through other mechanisms such as the sharing of non-sterile hypodermics in drug use or by the transfusion of infected blood.

Sex and HIV - some facts

HIV may be passed from one partner to another during any 'unprotected' sexual activity that involves penetration and the exchange of bodily fluids. That applies to either gay or straight sex, and people of either gender can infect each other.

HIV may remain relatively dormant in the body for many years with the infected person having no symptoms or even any awareness that they are infected - unless they've had a confidential HIV test of course. Even if they're entirely asymptomatic, an infected person may be able to unwittingly infect their sexual partner.HIV may progress into AIDS over time, though anti-viral treatments may prove effective in stabilizing the position in some cases.

Protection

There are really only two ways you can be sure that you won't contract HIV through sex:
- Lead an entirely celibate lifestyle
- Only have sex with someone you know is not carrying the HIV infection

Most experts agree that using a condom may significantly reduce the chances of infection but that it is not 100% foolproof or guaranteed. It's also worth avoiding the confusion that can sometimes arise over the use of the term 'protected sex' in the context of contraception and HIV protection. Many contraceptive methods of 'protected sex' offer little or no protection whatsoever against HIV.

The confidential HIV test

Unfortunately, problems in life tend not to just go away because you ignore them. The fact is that if you have previously engaged in unprotected sex or other high-risk activities (e.g. sharing syringes), then there is a chance, though hopefully a relatively small one, that you have HIV. It may therefore be advisable to get yourself checked out through a confidential HIV test.

Why?

- If you have HIV it is important to seek professional medical advice and treatment.
- If you do have HIV then this is something you should know about in terms of your future sexual activity.

It's sometimes not easy admitting to yourself that a test may be advisable. That's why there are centers that specialize in offering a fast and entirely confidential HIV test that will confirm the reality of the position to you.

Morality is not an issue

It is your right to lead the sexual life of your choosing. Taking a confidential HIV test says nothing about your personal morals and nobody is going to judge you. The reality is that HIV can be caught from even a single unprotected sexual encounter. It can also arise in a stable and secure relationship if your partner has had unprotected sex with another person previously or if you did.

Showing responsibility

In today's world, sexual health is becoming a more open subject of discussion. Both in terms of HIV and other STDs, it is not unreasonable to ask a potential new sexual partner about their previous and current sexual health, and they may well expect you to answer similar questions. In that sense, being able to confirm that you are free of HIV or STDs is a sign of maturity and that you are respecting the rights of someone you plan to have sex with. The only way you'll be able to do that with certainty is to have a test for STDs and HIV.

HIV and STD tests - not just a one-off

If you are sexually active and engage in sex with different partners (particularly if you do not insist on using a condom), then having a regular confidential HIV test is highly advisable - as indeed is possibly some change in your attitude towards condoms! It's never a pleasant thought because it involves trust, but even if you're in an exclusive and stable relationship, remember that you can only be 100% sure of your own behaviors and not those of your partner.

Therefore, thinking about HIV, STDs and periodic testing may be necessary even in such situations - which is another reason why the confidential HIV test and specialist testing centers exist.
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