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What Men Should Know

What you need to know about HIV testing and treatment

Make 2021 the year of good health and know your status. Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. Getting tested for HIV is quick, easy, painless, confidential and free. Here’s everything you need to know about HIV testing.

The thought of testing might make you feel anxious, nervous and scared, all these emotions are completely normal. And because of these feelings, most people often put off testing because they are worried about the result, but knowing your status will allow you to take control of your health.

  • If you pop into a Health4Men competent clinic or Yellow Dot Doctor near you, you can have your HIV test results in about 20 minutes,
  • HIV can take up to 3 months to show up on your body, which is why getting tested every 3 to 6 months is recommended if you’ve had risky sex or possible exposure to HIV.
  • You’ll receive some counselling from a healthcare practitioner, who is trained to counsel men who have sex with men in a non-judgmental and sympathetic way, before and after the test.
  • You’ll have one of your fingers pricked lightly enough to produce a drop of blood (you hardly feel it), and then that drop of blood is used in a disposable kit right in front of you.  The healthcare provider will explain exactly how the test works and how a positive or negative HIV result should look.
  • You can also easily get tested for HIV or other STI at your local doctor if you feel more comfortable.
  • Even if you are in a long-term committed relationship, it is better to stay ‘in the know’ by getting tested at least once a year.
  • If there is even the slightest chance, you may have been exposed to HIV (the condom broke or you didn’t manage to use one in that moment of passion), we recommend you get to a healthcare provider/ clinic within 72 hours from exposure and ask for an emergency PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) kit.
  • Remember, HIV is even more manageable than diabetes, and if you receive the right treatment and take it when you should, you can live a long, happy and healthy life.

I tested positive, now what.

Receiving a positive diagnosis can be a shocking and emotional experience, but testing positive isn’t a death sentence. If your results come out positive, the healthcare worker will talk to you about what this means and what will happen next.

With the right treatment and care, you can expect to live as long as the average person, so it’s important to take control of your health by getting a test and getting on treatment immediately.

  • Antiretrovirals (ARVs) reduce the risk of sickness and death in people who are HIV-positive. They are essential for the treatment and management of HIV.
  • You need to start your ARVs immediately after testing positive
  • ARVs may have some minor side effects and some HIV patients who start ARVs may feel unwell for a short period of time. This does not occur in every case and it will pass after approximately two months. Claims that say ARVs will make you more ill than the disease itself are incorrect.
  • It’s very important that ARVs are taken every single day (preferably at the same time) in order to prevent the virus from developing a resistance to the medication.
  • ARVs should be continued for life. Stopping and starting can contribute to viral resistance and starting ARVs again, after a break without it, can make it less effective. Even if your viral load is reported as ‘undetectable’ this does not mean that you can stop the ARVs.

ARVs are available for free at most public health clinics. They are also covered by most medical aids.