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90.Why do I need to know my HIV status?

Why do I need to know my HIV status?
With regard to HIV, IGNORANCE IS DEFINITELY NOT BLISS.
Not knowing your HIV status can be very dangerous. If you test positive, knowing your status as early as possible after seroconversion has taken place puts you in the best position to preserve your health, as well as that of your partner(s), and your children, if you have or are planning to have a family.
Effective medications and good health care are enabling many thousands who are HIV- positive to live successful and fulfilling lives. Not knowing if you are HIV positive means you are not getting the health care you need to stay well. You may also be putting others in your life at risk.
If you test negative, that knowledge can be a powerful incentive to consistently follow the guidelines that will help you to remain HIV negative. It can also spare you a lot of unnecessary worrying and stress that often occurs when someone's uncertain about their status.

Where can I get tested?
You can arrange for testing through your doctor or healthcare provider or public health department. Other places where you may be able to get tested are at your local community health center, family planning clinic, STD clinic, or hospital. For those who prefer anonymity, any FDA- approved home testing kit is accurate and reliable.
It's important for you to be aware that counseling is an important part of HIV testing. It may be done face-to-face with a doctor, at a testing site with a counselor, or over the phone with a counselor working for a home-collection testing kit company. These conversations play a valuable role in informing anyone who's tested negative about maintaining their negative status and advising those who test positive about their health care.
When it comes to HIV testing, the old cliché, "knowledge is power," still holds true. Knowing your accurate HIV status, whether negative or positive, puts you in the best position to protect your health.

Every state In the USA has its own HIV Hotline where information can be obtained about where to get tested, including anonymously, in those states in which anonymous testing is available.

In the following states, only confidential but not anonymous testing is available: Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.
In all other states both anonymous and confidential testing is available.
Some useful phone numbers:
CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines for testing referral information:
1-800-342-3437 (English)
1-800-344-7432 (Spanish)
For all other countries, your first contact should be with your doctor who should guide you to the nearest facility that provides AIDS testing. Also, you may want to contact your local AIDS Awareness groups such as ASAAP in Toronto or the community centre at 519 Church Street.

You and your doctor
One of the most important tools that you have in fighting HIV disease is your relationship with your doctor. It's worth spending time looking for the right doctor, and being ruthless about changing doctors who don't work for you. Studies have shown that a person with HIV whose doctor treats lots of other HIV-positive patients lives longer than a person whose doctor only treats a few HIV patients. In other words, if at all possible, find a doctor who specializes in treating HIV!
If you don't know where to go or who to ask for advice on finding a doctor with lots of experience treating people with HIV, then try contacting your local AIDS service organization -- they usually have a list of recommended doctors in your area.

In the USA., you can get the name and number of your local AIDS service organization by calling the CDC National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-342-AIDS.
Talk to your doctor -- see if you feel comfortable with him or her. If you don't feel comfortable discussing your most personal stuff with the doctor (your sex life, your bowel habits, the weird growth in your groin, or your recurrent yeast infections) then maybe you should change doctors. Remember -- your doctor works for you. Would you hire a plumber who made you feel uncomfortable discussing your sink?


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