HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human body cannot rid itself of HIV, meaning once you have it, you have it for life.
About 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV infection at the end of 2010. One of every six of those do not know they are infected. There are about 50,000 new infections each year.
Testing is critical to decreasing the spread of HIV.
• Everyone age 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once.
• Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should be tested.
• Anyone who has been sexually assaulted should be tested.
• You need to be tested if any of the following apply to you or anyone you have had sex with.
- Had sex with someone who is HIV-positive or whose status you don’t know since your last HIV test
- Have injected drugs including steroids, hormones or silicone and shared equipment such as needles or syringes with others should be tested
- Have exchanged sex for drugs or money
• Have been diagnosed or sought treatment for hepatitis, tuberculosis or a sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis
• If you continue to have unsafe sex or share injection drug equipment, you should be tested at least once each year.
• Sexually active gay or bisexual men may benefit from testing every three to six months.
Testing is available at county health centers. All STD testing is confidential. In addition, HIV testing may be anonymous, meaning test results are tracked by unrecorded test numbers only.
LEARN MORE: Get additional information about HIV risk, prevention and treatment.