for Veterans and the Public
Should you get tested?
Yes. Public health experts now recommend that all adults should be routinely tested for HIV infection.
In the past, doctors and other health care providers usually only tested for HIV if patients had symptoms that might indicate an immune deficiency or if there was something in the their medical history that suggested they might be at increased risk for the virus.
Are Veterans in the VA being tested?
VA recommends that voluntary HIV testing be provided to all patients who receive medical care--even for those Veterans who do not think that they have risk factors. HIV testing has been made "routine" so that persons who are infected can be diagnosed early on and receive life-saving care. As with many other diseases, it is better to diagnose and treat HIV early rather than late. Today we are fortunate to have many effective treatments for persons with HIV.
Veterans with identified risk factors should get tested for HIV at least once a year. Medical clues that suggest increased risk include a past or current history of a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea or syphilis, having unprotected sex (having sex without using a condom), especially with more than one partner, and sharing needles and syringes to inject drugs.
VHA is the largest single provider of HIV care in the United States, providing care to more than 26,000 Veterans with HIV in 2013. Yet, only 30 percent of Veterans in VA care have been tested for HIV. Getting diagnosed and treated early can keep you healthier longer. It can even save your life. Even if you do not think you are "at risk" you should talk to your doctor about taking the HIV test. And if your doctor doesn't bring up the subject of HIV testing, you should!