If you recently had an appointment with a Valley-Wide Health Systems provider, you were likely offered a free HIV test. Currently, Valley-Wide is offering this free and voluntary test annually to any established Valley-Wide patient ages 15-64. This test is also offered more frequently to those patients who are at higher risk of getting HIV.
The test is performed in clinic and you can find out the results after your visit the same day. If you are not a Valley-Wide patient ask your provider if they offer free HIV testing. While most people are willing to be tested, many do decline the test due to anxiety or simply not wanting to know the results. Before you decline, consider taking some time to self-reflect and determine your risk. Even if you think you may not be at risk, it’s recommended to test for HIV at least once in your lifetime. The anxiety related to doing this test can be enormous but knowing your HIV status is priceless. If you are unsure about doing the test, speak to your provider and ask questions. Having untreated HIV can lead to serious health consequences and can seriously affect sexual partners due to risk of transmission to them. Keep in mind that HIV can also lead to AIDS.
HIV is a virus and is usually transmitted by sexual intercourse (oral, anal, vaginal), exposure to infected blood (IV drug use, needle sharing, needle sticks) or perinatal transmission. Sometimes there can be no symptoms or signs of infection. Usually symptoms do start 2-4 weeks after an exposure and can appear like a common cold. Symptoms can include fever, headache, sore joints, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea and rash. Often symptoms persist without improvement. Consider checking your HIV status if you think you may have been exposed recently or if you are a high risk individual. Remember, even if you are not at high risk, it’s recommended to test at least once in your lifetime.