Why Should I Get Tested?
For many individuals who consider getting tested for STBBI for the first time, the question of why they should get tested in the first place may arise. Below are some reasons why you should consider getting tested and knowing your HIV/STBBI status:
You've engaged in an activity that puts you at risk
If you’ve engaged in an unprotected sexual activity (such as oral, anal, vaginal sex, sharing toys etc.) that puts you at risk of contracting HIV and/or other STBBI, you should get tested and know your status (for more information on the risks of different sexual activities click here, for information on prevention techniques click here). If you’ve engaged in the sharing of drug use equipment (pipes, straws, etc.), you are also at risk of contracting HIV and/or other STBBI and should get tested.
Some may be unaware that they’ve engaged in an activity that puts them at risk of contracting an STBBI. Others may consider themselves or their sexual partner(s) to be at a lower risk of having an STBBI due to various ungrounded reasons, and therefore don’t consider getting tested a priority. The bottom of the line is, it only takes one unprotected incident to put you at risk of contracting HIV and/or other STBBI.
For your health
If you contract HIV, diagnosing the virus as early as possible is important for your health. The earlier the infection is diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment and suppression of the virus. With proper treatment and care, most people living with HIV live long and healthy lives. In addition to HIV treatment, it is additionally important to diagnose other STBBI in order to start treatment for symptoms earlier on and prevent any further complications that may occur if the STBBI goes untreated.
For the health of your partner(s)
Knowing your HIV and other STBBI status plays an important role in the health of your partner(s). Being unaware of your HIV status means no treatment has been initiated to suppress the virus and therefore, the likelihood that you may transmit the virus to someone else increases greatly. It is estimated that 14% of people (9,090) with HIV in Canada are unaware that they have it. Once someone is diagnosed, after 3-6 months of consistent treatment, the level of the virus in the body will become so low that it is undetectable and cannot be passed on to others, although it is not a cure and the person living with HIV must continue treatment or the virus will become detectable again. It is therefore crucial that any person who has engaged in an unprotected activity that puts them at risk get tested and know their status.