For some, getting tested for HIV can be an absolutely terrifying experience. After all, for many years an HIV-positive test result meant that you were in for the fight of your life. But just as scientific advancements have fundamentally changed what it means to be living with HIV and the options we have to prevent it, it’s high time we address those outdated fears of the HIV test.
Here are some of most common fears of getting tested for HIV and how to get over them.
Because you haven’t been as safe as you would want. Don’t beat yourself up. The majority of the LGBTQ community does not practice safe sex 100 percent of the time. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect because you will always let yourself down. Instead, forgive yourself immediately for any mistakes you’ve made and go and get some peace of mind by getting tested.
Because it’s been a long time since your last test. You know you should have gotten tested over a year ago, but you were just too busy. That’s what you told yourself, at least. Lucky for you, there has never been a more perfect time than right now to get tested. Grab a friend to go with you and get some ice cream afterwards. You got this.
Because your ex tested positive. Learning that someone you had sex with tested positive for HIV can be a pretty jarring experience. But you don’t have to rack your brain with every what-if scenario you can think of. Even the worst case scenario is something that you can definitely manage, so take the guess work out and get your test over with as fast as possible.
Because someone you know might see you. This fear requires a shift of thinking about HIV testing and sexual health. If you are sexually active, it is a total turn on to be in control of your sexual health. Don’t worry about if someone sees you at the clinic, because it only makes you look that much more attractive.
If you are still uncomfortable with going into your local HIV testing clinic, look for some nontraditional testing sites. There may be several HIV-specialized pharmacies that partner with community organizations in your neighborhood that offer testing services. Walgreens has partnered with Greater Than AIDS since 2010 to bring HIV testing to select stores in June. Instead of the waiting in the pharmacy area, you can shop for condoms and candy bars while you wait for your results.
Because you might be HIV-positive. The most obvious fear of all. But here is the good news… Even if you are HIV-positive, you are going to live a long and healthy life. Knowing your HIV-positive status empowers you to take charge of your health, start treatment, achieve an undetectable viral load, and reduce your risk of transmitting HIV to nearly nothing. It’s still might be a terrifying thought, but rest assured that life is much less stressful after that HIV test.
If you do not test positive for HIV, become the advocate you needed before your test for all of your friends who might be going through the same thing. When it comes to the fight against HIV, we are all in this fight together. Your support could be what finally motivates someone in your life to finally take control of their own sexual health and get tested.
Tyler Curry is the editor at large for Plus Magazine and the Virology Account Manager for Walgreens in Central Texas.