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Basic Questions and Answers About HIV Testing

July 7, 2016

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Should I Share My Positive Test Result With Others?

It's important to share your status with your sex partners. Whether you disclose your status to others is your decision.


Partners

It's important to disclose your HIV status to your sex partners even if you're uncomfortable doing it. Communicating with each other about your HIV status means you can take steps to keep both of you healthy. The more practice you have disclosing your HIV status, the easier it will become.

Many resources can help you learn ways to disclose your status to your partners. For tips on how to start the conversation with your partners, check out CDC's Start Talking campaign.

If you're nervous about disclosing your test result, or you have been threatened or injured by your partner, you can ask your doctor or the local health department to tell them that they might have been exposed to HIV. This is called partner notification services. Health departments do not reveal your name to your partners. They will only tell your partners that they have been exposed to HIV and should get tested.

Many states have laws that require you to tell your sexual partners if you're HIV-positive before you have sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) or tell your drug-using partners before you share drugs or needles to inject drugs. In some states, you can be charged with a crime if you don't tell your partner your HIV status, even if your partner doesn't become infected.


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Family and Friends

In most cases, your family and friends will not know your test results or HIV status unless you tell them yourself. While telling your family that you have HIV may seem hard, you should know that disclosure actually has many benefits -- studies have shown that people who disclose their HIV status respond better to treatment than those who don't.

If you are under 18, however, some states allow your health care provider to tell your parent(s) that you received services for HIV if they think doing so is in your best interest. For more information, see the Guttmacher Institute's State Policies in Brief: Minors' Access to STI Services.


Employers

In most cases, your employer will not know your HIV status unless you tell them. But your employer does have a right to ask if you have any health conditions that would affect your ability to do your job or pose a serious risk to others. (An example might be a health care professional, like a surgeon, who does procedures where there is a risk of blood or other body fluids being exchanged.)

If you have health insurance through your employer, the insurance company cannot legally tell your employer that you have HIV. But it is possible that your employer could find out if the insurance company provides detailed information to your employer about the benefits it pays or the costs of insurance.

All people with HIV are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your HIV status as long as you can do your job. To learn more, see the Department of Justice's website.

It may help you to hear stories about how others are living with HIV and how they've shared their status with partners, family, and friends. Visit our websites for Let's Stop HIV Together and HIV Treatment Works.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Who Will Pay for My HIV Test?

HIV screening is covered by health insurance without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. If you do not have medical insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests. See Where can I get tested? for more information.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Who Will Pay for My Treatment If I Am HIV-Positive?

If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you don't have health insurance, or you're unable to afford your co-pay or co-insurance amount, you may be eligible for government programs that can help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. Your health care provider or local public health department can tell you where to get HIV treatment.

See The Affordable Care Act and HIV/AIDS for more information.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).

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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 

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