01 December is World Aids Day, and while getting tested for HIV may be the last thing on your mind as the festive season gets underway, it could help you and your partners live healthier lives.
Almost one in six South African adults are HIV positive*. HIV testing is a critically important part of the overall fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. So why should you get tested? Here are five good reasons:
1. To avoid passing HIV on to others
If you have unprotected sex, you might pass the virus on to others without knowing.* Nearly one in five people living with HIV don’t know that they are infected**, if they are not suppressed on (antiretroviral) treatment, they can pass the virus on.
The more sexual partners you have, the more likely it is that you can contract HIV. Even if you have only had one sexual partner, it is important to get tested and know your status.
2. It’s better to know
If you’ve put yourself at risk to contract HIV in any way and are worried you might have HIV, testing is the only way to know for certain what your HIV status is.
It’s normal to feel unsure about testing for HIV, but having a test will help you to stop worrying about your status. You can stop losing sleep and take appropriate action when you know.
3. A positive result means you can get access to treatment
If you test HIV positive, you can start taking antiretroviral drugs immediately. These drugs will help keep you healthy. The sooner you can take the drugs, the better chance you have of living a long life, even if you are HIV positive.
4. Keep your sexual partners healthy
By testing for HIV regularly, you can look after the health of your sexual partners too. If you’re HIV positive, you can prevent the spread of the virus by taking your antiretroviral medication correctly and using condoms.
5. Getting tested is easy and free
Anova Health encourages all men living in and around Diepsloot, Roodepoort and Kliptown to get tested for HIV and know their status. Their project, Score4Life, provides pop-up stores that offer free, safe and totally confidential HIV testing in a queue-free, funky and friendly environment.
Give yourself and your loved ones the best gift this festive season: take an HIV test and know your status.
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