For decades, there has been great stigma attached to the diagnosis of HIV and AIDS. While awareness of the life threatening disease has increased exponentially, individuals who are at risk for carrying the HIV virus often do not seek screening, testing or diagnosis early in the infection period.
HIV screening is important; especially if you are at risk for carrying the virus that will, eventually, lead to the development of AIDS. Unlike past medication therapies, today, if you are diagnosed with HIV early in the stage of your illness, treatment options are available which could drastically improve your health.
Visit with your family physician. In today’s healthcare environment, physicians are becoming more willing to ask the difficult questions about sexuality and recreational drug use. In addition, the screening for HIV is becoming increasingly more acceptable as part of routine health screening and physical examinations.
Beyond the need to initiate medications soon after being infected with HIV, there are many other reasons to seek screening and diagnosis early if you are at risk for carrying the disease. First, you will want to know what risk you may be for other potential sexual partners and learn the ways in which to avoid transmission of the virus.
Second, because HIV often leads to secondary health complications, including those affecting the neurological, cardiovascular and even psychological systems, your healthcare professional will want to take a multidisciplinary approach to your healthcare as soon as possible.
While screening and diagnosing HIV may be a frightening experience, even more frightening is the potential for significant health, psychological and social deterioration if you delay in obtaining screening and diagnosis. It is unfortunate, but, in many cases, HIV diagnoses are not made until a patient has moved into an AIDS complication at which point obtaining control over the medical and psychological issues may be difficult and securing social services for housing and health services may be impossible.
Screening for HIV is simple and takes only a few days to obtain results. If you are sexually active, engage in the use of recreational drugs, or if you recently underwent blood transfusion, it is important to obtain HIV screening regularly. Because your health complications are best managed when diagnosis is made early, HIV screening is becoming part of many routine health examinations. When visiting with your physician for routine health or annual check-up, ask about HIV screening to be certain you are addressing any potential risks and long term health complications that may arise.