HIV testing is an important tool in the treatment and prevention of HIV. Anyone suspected of being at risk should get tested for a clear result. The problem here is that there are still many myths about HIV tests, the process, reliability, and reasons for testing.
From there, medical professionals can provide guidance and treatment appropriate to the result. Here are 6 of the most common.
1) The Reasons For Getting Tested
The first of these myths about HIV tests is the reason for applying for a test in the first place. Healthcare professionals recommend testing to those that have had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive individual or had blood contact, such as via needles.
The problem is that many myths persist about the means of transmission. Some people may assume they have the infection when there is no risk at all.
Common misconceptions here include transmission through kissing, bodily contact, insect bites and shared items like toilet seats and towels.
2) Sexual Contact With An HIV-Positive Individual Means That A Positive Result Is A Guarantee
Many assume that if they engage in sexual activity, share needles or have blood contact with an HIV-infected person; they automatically get infected. This is one of those HIV tests myths that is not true at all.
Contact with semen, blood or vaginal fluid poses the risk of infection through the transmission. However, there is no guarantee that they will have passed the virus on to others.
That infected individual may take ART, or the couple could be part of that winning percentage that doesn’t get infected. This is why testing is so important. Patients need to know the truth and can’t assume the worst.
3) HIV Testing Is Unreliable
This is one of the leading concerns for anyone going in for HIV testing. There is the fear that the results won’t be accurate and they will have to deal with the consequences of a false-positive.
This is mainly due to the amount of retesting on an initial positive result to be sure of a correct diagnosis. Modern HIV tests are more advanced and accurate and will guide patients.
4) HIV Testing Is Invasive And Prolonged
As with all testing procedures, there is always apprehension over the process involved. The last thing that patients want is to be thoroughly prodded with instruments and examined. This is particularly the case for HIV testing.
The good news is that this is another of those HIV tests myths that are incorrect. HIV tests are pretty quick and painless.
Testers take an oral swab or a blood sample with a finger prick. The waiting time for results will depend on the type of test. There is a “rapid test” option that provides results in 20 minutes.
5) Everyone Will Know About Your Sexual History After An HIV Test
The only person that will know a patient’s current sexual history and the reasons for the visit are the patients and healthcare provider present.
There is a questionnaire to complete at the start of the visit that gives information on the situation. However, there is no reason to pass the results on to anyone else. The best clinics maintain healthy standards of patient confidentiality.
6) HIV Testing Will Negatively Affect Prospects
The last of these myths about HIV tests are surprisingly common. There are concerns that patients will face discrimination if they test positive for HIV.
While there will always be some people that make judgments, employers, banks and other professionals cannot discriminate on these grounds.
Again, the HIV test and its results only become public if the patients choose to reveal them. The result should have no bearing on employment prospects, mortgages and other issues.
Myths about HIV tests will continue to persist in society as long as stigma remains and education is inadequate. There is no reason why these myths should be commonly believed in modern society as there is so much proof to the contrary.
With better education and support, we can see a greater understanding of the truth behind transmission and testing. It is not scary and invasive, the result will not be broadcast to the world, and it will not affect a patient’s prospects.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the result will be positive, just because internet scare stories say otherwise.