There can be any number of reasons why you might not have sought to get an HIV test in your past. But more than ever if you are a gay guy who has sex (we think there may be a few of you) you should consider getting tested regularly. So what is keeping you from testing? Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons guys currently avoid HIV testing, and how we can work around them.
I don’t want to test because: I’m not at risk of HIV
The HIV landscape has changed dramatically since the 80s and today we have many more methods for treatment and prevention than we have ever before. So while HIV is no longer a death sentence, it still continues to affect gay men in NSW.
Even if you think there is no chance you have been exposed to HIV, you should still get tested at least twice a year or up to 4 times if you have more than 10 sex partners in 6 months.
Get an idea of the types of risks and risk reduction strategies by using our risk calculator.
I don’t want to get tested because: I’m afraid I’ll be diagnosed HIV positive
If you are diagnosed as HIV positive there is a lot of support available to you. Consider talking to a close friend, family member or partner about your decision to have an HIV test – or better yet, ask them to come and support you when you get tested. Alternatively, you can speak to someone at ACON or the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service.
I don’t want to test because: I don’t have the time to go in and get the HIV test, and then go back for the test results
HIV testing has come a long way, and the time it takes to get a test and receive results is much shorter now. ACON’s a[TEST] service offers free, confidential rapid HIV testing for men who have sex with men, which gives you a result in as little as 30 minutes.
I don’t want to test because: I haven’t experienced any HIV symptoms so why should I need to test?
Did you know that most new HIV transmissions in NSW occur because some gay guys think they’re negative but aren’t? For many people, it can take years before HIV symptoms are noticeable, and not knowing your status puts your health and the health of people you love and play with at real risk. By getting an HIV test you are better armed to protect yourself and your partner in the bedroom.
I don’t want to test because: I don’t want to be judged by the person giving me my HIV test and results
Feeling comfortable and getting the support you need when going for a test can make a world of difference. ACON’s a[TEST] has peer educators and nursing staff who will provide a confidential and nonjudgmental environment for your HIV test. Alternatively ACON also has a gay friendly GP list that you can access to book your next HIV test and check up.
Do any of these reasons sound familiar to you? If so, we hope we’ve helped resolved your worries around testing. And remember you can find out more information about testing or book a free and confidential rapid HIV test at www.atest.org.au