There are tons of arbitrary holidays sprinkling the calendar these days. Last Friday was National Pink Day, yesterday was National Chocolate Pudding Day, and next week is National “Be Nice to New Jersey” Week. (Yep, that’s a real thing.) But some of these holidays are actually super important not only to acknowledge but also to take part in. Today, for one, is National HIV Testing Day.
You’re probably thinking, “I don’t have to worry about HIV.” But, 1) we’re in the midst of an STD epidemic, and 2) one in seven people with HIV don’t even know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scary, right? Here are some guidelines to help you decide if you should get tested today. If you’ve never been tested or you answer “yes” to any of the following questions about risk factors since your last negative HIV test, it means you’re due for a test, according to HIV.gov.
- Are you a man who has had sex with another man?
- Have you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner?
- Have you had more than one sex partner?
- Have you injected drugs and shared needles or works (for example, water or cotton) with others?
- Have you exchanged sex for drugs or money?
- Have you been diagnosed with, or sought treatment for, another sexually transmitted disease?
- Have you been diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB)?
- Have you had sex with someone who could answer “yes” to any of the above questions or someone whose sexual history you don’t know?
For many people, the thought of having HIV is, understandably, a pretty terrifying one. In fact, the number-one reason people avoid getting tested for HIV is because of fear, anxiety, and other psychological barriers, as we previously reported. But in this case, ignorance most certainly is not bliss. Getting tested is a necessary part of being a responsible sexual adult and will most likely give you peace of mind.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to HIV testing: It usually takes about three months for your body to make enough antibodies to show up on an HIV test, but it could be even longer, according to Planned Parenthood. This is called the “window period,” and if you get tested during this time, you may get a negative result even if you do actually have HIV. (BTW it also takes six to eight weeks for other STDs to show up in tests. Here’s everything else you need to know about how to have safe sex.)
Long story short, you should take advantage of this “holiday” and go get tested (and head to your gyno if you’re slacking on scheduling your annual exam). Here, all the crazy-easy ways to get your HIV status.
Where to Get HIV Testing
- Walgreens: They’ve teamed up with Greater Than AIDS to provide *free* HIV testing at more than 220 Walgreens stores in 130 cities across the nation from June 27 to 29. Stop by one of these locations between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. for a free HIV test today through Thursday.
- Planned Parenthood: Head to any Planned Parenthood location to get an HIV test—either anonymous or confidential, meaning your name can be detached from your test. PP also has HIV counseling and can help you plan next steps in the event of a positive diagnosis.
- HIV.gov: Use HIV.gov’s testing locator to see all the testing locations in your area.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC also has a testing site locator tool that can instantly tell you where to get HIV, STD, or hepatitis testing.
- Text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948) to get local testing locations sent straight to your phone.
- In your own home: Grab an at-home HIV test like OraQuick (an in-home oral rapid HIV test that gives you results in 20 minutes) or a myLAB Box (an at-home STD testing service that can test for a variety of STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, herpes simplex 2, syphilis, trichomoniasis, HPV, mycoplasma, and ureaplasma, returning results within five days). If you receive a positive test result from an at-home screening, you should go to a clinic for another test to confirm the results, according to Planned Parenthood.