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Top 10 Reasons to Get Tested for HIV

It only takes 20 minutes to know your HIV status. Knowing your status means you took your HIV test and learned you either have been exposed to HIV infection and you are HIV-positive, or have not been exposed to HIV and are HIV-negative. 

After a simple and almost painless finger stick and a short waiting period of 20 minutes, you will know your HIV status.

If you know you have HIV:
You can live a long life
HIV can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can kill you if you do not take care of yourself. However, we know today that if you are 20 years old when you get HIV, you can live another 40-50 or more years. There are things you must do to live a long life, like taking HIV medicines (also known as antiretroviral therapy or ARV). If you do not know you have HIV, you will not know to take ARV that can help you live a long life. There is no cure for HIV yet, but free ARV is available if you get HIV tested and KNOW YOUR STATUS.

You can live a healthy life
It is true that HIV can cause you to get very sick if you do not get tested and KNOW YOUR STATUS. However, there are many things you can do to keep yourself from getting sick once you are armed with knowing your status, such as taking medications, finding ways to eat better or by exercising, which you can do by just walking fast for 30 minutes every day. You can talk about HIV with close family, friends, an HIV counselor, or in support groups with other people who have HIV. Talking about your HIV status can help you fight HIV “stigma “ (accepting the fact that you have HIV to help you from feeling bad or that you are alone and isolated and going to die). “Stigma” can even prevent you from getting an HIV test, getting help to fight your HIV, or from living a healthy life. You can fight HIV stigma and live a healthy life, but only if you get tested and KNOW YOUR STATUS.
You can protect your partner(s) from getting HIV
One way HIV is spread from person to person is through sexual intercourse with a man or a woman who has HIV without a condom. A man can get HIV from a woman, and a woman can get HIV from a man. Proper use of a condom can protect either partner from getting HIV. If you are a woman with HIV, your male partner can have a circumcision, which is the removal of the foreskin covering the head of the penis). Circumcision alone can reduce your male partner’s chances of getting HIV from you by over 50 percent.
Top 10 Reasons to Get Tested for HIV
If you are a man with HIV, just wearing a condom can reduce the risk of giving HIV to your female partner by over 90 percent. But to protect your partner(s) or yourself from getting HIV, you need to KNOW YOUR STATUS.

You can avoid exposing your family and friends to HIV
You can only risk giving a family member HIV if you expose them to your blood. Taking ARV reduces the amount of HIV in your blood, which also reduces the chance of giving someone HIV if they come in contact with your blood. You cannot give HIV to any of your family or friends by kissing, sneezing, throwing up, drinking from the same glasses, eating from the same plates or eating from the same forks or knives. But first, you need to KNOW YOUR STATUS.
You can rebuild your immune system

HIV infects and kills T cells in your blood, otherwise known as CD4 cells, which are part of your immune system and help prevent you from getting certain infections. The more CD4 cells you have, the less chance you have of getting sick. The more CD4 cells HIV kills, the less ability you have to fight off infections. Getting your CD4 cell counts can easily be done in 20 minutes with an almost painless finger stick, exactly like the finger stick you do to get tested. If your CD4 cell count goes below 200, you may now have AIDS and are at risk of getting certain infections. To rebuild your immune system, you need to KNOW YOUR STATUS. 
You can prevent HIV from hurting you
Taking your HIV meds usually means taking three medications, possibly all in one or two pills that you take once or twice a day. You can test to see if your HIV medications are working by doing a “viral load” test. If your ARV stops the virus from progressing, your viral load will be considered “undetectable,” meaning no HIV can be detected in your blood. This doesn’t mean you are cured; it means your ARV is working to prevent HIV from hurting you.

You can have a healthy, HIV-negative baby

If a pregnant woman knows she has HIV, starts taking ARV before the end of her sixth month of her pregnancy, and does not miss any doses, the ARV can prevent the mother from giving HIV to her baby over 95 percent of the time. This is called preventing mother-to-child transmission, or PMTCT. Without ARV, the chance of an HIV-positive pregnant woman giving HIV to her newly born baby is over 30 percent.

BEAT AIDS Project Zimbabwe (BAPZ) and your Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) are committed to working together in “saving the next generation” of Zimbabwean children. But you cannot PMTCT without getting your HIV test first so you KNOW YOUR STATUS.

You can breastfeed your baby
Taking ARV throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and after your baby is born, will prevent your baby from becoming HIV-positive and allow you to safely breast-feed your baby.
You can tell others why it is so important to know your HIV status

Education and advocacy are the keys to fighting HIV and HIV stigma. All throughout Zimbabwe, there are organizations like BAPZ that work along with the MOHCC to educate healthcare providers and all Zimbabweans. If you are educated about having HIV, there is no reason not to KNOW YOUR HIV STATUS. If you know your status and are HIV-positive, all of the above reasons for knowing your HIV status can be true for you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors.
You can protect yourself from ever getting HIV

Lastly, the most obvious reason to know your status is, if you do not have HIV, you can protect yourself from getting it. It only takes one sexual exposure to HIV to become HIV-positive. It may take 10 or more years after getting HIV to show symptoms or develop AIDS, so just because you feel healthy and are not sick, you still may have HIV and you maybe passing it along to others. If you are HIV-negative and sexually active, protect yourself and your sexual partner. Do not have sex without using a condom. New couples should get tested for HIV together. There are hundreds of thousands of couples where one partner has HIV and the other does not. You can live a long, healthy life and have a healthy sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner.
Source: Beat AIDS Project Zimbabwe

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