The only way to tell you have HIV is get tested for the virus. You cannot rely on symptoms to tell if you or someone you know is infected. The symptoms of HIV are similar to many other illnesses and many people have no symptoms at all. The symptoms of AIDS are also similar to other diseases. If a person is infected with HIV, the only way to tell if they have progressed to AIDS is to be diagnosed by a doctor using the CDC defined criteria.
FAQs about HIV Testing
- injecting drugs or steroids with used injection equipment
- having sex for money or drugs
- having sex with an HIV-infected person
- having more than one sex partner since your last HIV test
- having a sex partner who has had other sex partners since your last HIV test
If you have been tested for HIV and the result is negative and you never do things that might transmit HIV infection, then you and your healthcare provider can decide whether you need to get tested again. Overall, you should talk to your doctor about how often to get tested for HIV.
Testing early has many benefits. People who know whether they are infected or not can take precautions to protect themselves and others in future. HIV-infected individuals can benefit from early treatment.
Some locations may have rapid tests that can tell if you are infected within 30 minutes, while in other locations it may take up to 2 weeks to get results. Check with the test site to find out what type of HIV tests they have.
See a doctor, even if you feel well. If possible, see a doctor who is familiar with treating people with HIV. Health care providers can inform you on what tests and drug treatment are right for you. There are many new drugs available that can help to slow down the damage that HIV does to the immune system. They can also advise you on other issues, like vaccines, as well as things to avoid in order to keep you healthy.
Get tested for tuberculosis (TB). Because a person can have an inactive type of bacteria, you may be infected with TB and not know it. TB can be a serious disease for someone who is infected with HIV, but it is curable if detected early.
Smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol or using illegal drugs can weaken a person’s immune system. People can help maintain their immune system health by stopping or reducing their use of these substances. There are many programs that can help you quit if you need to.
The CDC (1-800-CDC-INFO) can provide you with more information what to do if you test positive for HIV. They can also provide you with referrals to doctors, treatment programs and other services for HIV-infected individuals.