Everyone has an HIV status. The only way to know yours is to get tested.
If you are living with HIV, it’s important to start HIV treatment so you can live a longer, healthier life. If you are HIV negative, HIV prevention is better than ever: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of medication to prevent HIV infection. If taken as prescribed, PrEP can be used in combination with condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Most people do not show signs or symptoms of HIV infection, nor do they feel sick. However, signs of recent HIV infection may include:
- Sore muscles.
- Stomach aches.
- Weight loss.
- Night sweats.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
It is important to get tested for HIV. You can get a test at your primary care provider or at one of the many HIV testing sites across Philadelphia. You can also get tested in the comfort of your home by ordering a self-test kit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. About one in 10 people in Philadelphia who have HIV don’t know they have it.
People at higher risk should get tested more often. If you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, and that test was more than one year ago, and you answer yes to any of the following questions, you should get an HIV test as soon as possible because these things increase your chances of getting the virus:
- Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
- Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner?
- Have you had more than one sex partner since your last HIV test?
- Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (for example, water or cotton) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted infection?
- Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?
You should be tested at least once a year if you keep doing any of these things. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (for example, every three to six months).
If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for HIV and other ways to protect you and your child from getting HIV.
Before having sex for the first time with a new partner, you and your partner should talk about your sexual and drug-use history, disclose your HIV status, and consider getting tested for HIV and learning the results.
Different tests are used to see if you have HIV. Talk to your health care provider to see what type of HIV test is right for you.