HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. If you have HIV (also called being HIV-positive), early treatment can help you live a longer, healthier life.
The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Everyone ages 15 to 65 needs to get tested for HIV at least once. All pregnant women also need to get tested.
If you get tested at a doctor’s office or clinic, you can ask for a confidential test. The test results will be shared only with people you allow to see your medical records. Some clinics offer anonymous HIV testing. This means that you don’t have to give your name.
Under the health care reform law, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get HIV counseling at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance company to find out more.
What do I ask the doctor?
Visiting the doctor can be stressful. It helps to have questions written down before your appointment. Print this list of questions and take it with you when you visit the doctor or health clinic.
- Should I get tested for HIV?
- What puts me at risk for HIV?
- How will you test me for HIV?
- Who will see my test results?
- How long will it take to get my test results?
- How will I find out my results?
- Should I get tested for any other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)?
- If I have HIV, what will happen next?
If you learn you don't have HIV during the visit, you might want to ask these questions.
- How can I protect myself from HIV?
- When do I need to get tested again?
- Does my sex partner still need to get tested for HIV?
- Do you offer counseling on HIV prevention? If you don’t, can you recommend a place that does?
Content last updated July 24, 2020
This information on HIV was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Elizabeth A. DiNenno, PhD
Associate Deputy Director for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Sciences
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention