The sooner you start treatment, the healthier you will remain and the less likely you are to transmit the virus. If you are pregnant, or thinking of having a child, it is important to get tested for HIV so that you know whether you need to take antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to your child, and importantly, to keep yourself healthy over the long term by adhering to sustained antiretroviral therapy.
People with a negative HIV test result should be linked to HIV prevention services and continue to protect themselves against HIV
People’s risk of HIV can vary from country to country and from community to community. In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the percentage of adults aged 15–49 years living with HIV is above 20%.
In areas of high HIV prevalence, it is important for people to know their status, especially newborns, children, young people, particularly young women and girls, pregnant women and men of all ages.
There are also some key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings and migrants, who are also more at risk of HIV and should seek an HIV test.
If you are unsure whether you should take an HIV test, take our Test test. Please answer the following questions:
• Do you live in an area with a high rate of HIV?
• Have you or your family ever lived in an area with a high rate of HIV?
• Have you ever paid or been paid or exchanged goods or services for sex?
• Have you ever been diagnosed with, or sought treatment for, another sexually transmitted infection?
• Have you ever had tuberculosis?
• Are you a man who has had sex without a condom with another man?
• Are you a transgender person who has had sex without a condom.
• Have you injected drugs and shared injecting equipment with others?
• Have you had sex without a condom with someone who could answer yes to any of the above questions?
• Have you ever had sex without a condom with a person who is living with HIV whose viral load you do not know to be undetectable?
• Are you pregnant or do you plan to become pregnant?
If you answer yes to any of the above, it would be advisable to take an HIV test. Knowing your HIV status will give you the knowledge to go on to make informed choices about your health and get access to essential treatment if needed.
If you answer yes to more than one question, it is strongly recommended that you take an HIV test. If you feel you may be at ongoing risk of HIV, it is recommended that you seek HIV prevention services and take an HIV test every six months.
If you answer no to all of the above, your HIV risk should be low; however, if you are concerned, taking an HIV test is quick and easy and will confirm your HIV status and give you the knowledge you need to stay healthy.
Getting an HIV test is easy and free of charge in Volunteer Councelling and Testing Centers (VCT). There are VCT centers across Bosnia and Herzegovina: in clinics for infectious diseases, primary health care facilities, institutes for public health. There are also mobile testing units which provide testing in the field. A list of centers for anonymous HIV testing can be found on www.hivtestiranjebih.com or on our HIV Testing Center Locator
An HIV test is carried out by taking blood from a finger or arm, or by using an oral swab. Depending on the type of test you do, the results can come back in 20 minutes, but if a sample needs to be sent away to a laboratory, it may take a few weeks.
Wherever you take an HIV test you should get information about HIV before and after you test and have an opportunity to ask questions. HIV testing is also an opportunity to test for other diseases, including viral hepatitis, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections.
HIV testing should always be voluntary and confidential. All HIV testing services should be provided in line with the essential five Cs: consent, confidentiality, counselling, correct test results and connection/linkage to prevention, care and treatment.
Testing positive for HIV can be an overwhelming experience; however, it is important to remember that huge advances have been made and that effective treatment is now available to keep HIV-related illnesses at bay.
If you have tested positive with a self-testing kit, you will need to go to a clinic or hospital to confirm the result with a further blood test. You can contact your nearest health-care facility, which will be able to advise you.
It is important if you are HIV-positive to start HIV treatment as soon as possible, even if you are feeling well. The earlier that HIV treatment is started, the better the outcome. People can live long and healthy lives with early detection of HIV and proper treatment and care.
Once you are on antiretroviral treatment for HIV you should not re-test for HIV but regularly monitor your viral load. A low or undetectable viral load means that treatment is effective and the virus is suppressed.
If you are HIV-negative it is important to continue to protect yourself against HIV and if you feel you may be at increased risk it is advisable to test for HIV every six months.