for Veterans and the Public
Are Veterans in the VA being tested?
VA recommends that voluntary HIV testing be provided to all patients who receive medical care--even those Veterans who do not think that they have risk factors. HIV testing is "routine" so that persons who are infected can be diagnosed early on and receive life-saving care for themselves, and so they can take steps to avoid spreading the infection to others. 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. Factors that suggest increased risk include a past or current history of a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea or syphilis, having sex without using a condom, especially with more than one partner, having sex with a man who has sex with other men, or sharing needles and syringes to inject drugs.
VHA is the largest single provider of HIV care in the United States, delivering care to more than 27,000 Veterans with HIV in 2015. Yet, only 38 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!