HIV and You
Every South African is at risk of contracting HIV, because the disease is so prevalent in our country. It doesn't matter how old you are, if you are single, married or in a long-term relationship, living in an informal settlement or a big house, you should know your HIV status. This is the only way we can defeat the disease. If you know your status, you can protect your partner. If you know your status, you can receive treatment.
There are far fewer men than women who go for testing, and Brothers for Life wants to change that so that men can take control of their health.
An HIV test is called HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT).
What happens when you go for an HCT Test:
A health care worker will give you counselling, and tell you everything you need to know about how the test is done. You can then decide if you want to go ahead with the test or not. The healthcare worker will prick your finger, squeeze out a drop of blood, and place the blood onto a test strip. You get the results in about 20-30 minutes.
After you get your results, you will be given post-test counselling.
It is not easy to receive the news that you are positive, but there is no reason to despair. A positive diagnosis is not a death sentence. Millions of South Africans with HIV are living active, healthy lives, taking free ARV treatment. The healthcare worker will refer you to your local hospital for treatment. Don't feel that you have to go through this alone. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, or diabetes, you would need support. HIV is no different. Don't carry it alone. Here is a list of organisations that can help.
If you test negative you will be given advice on how to make sure you remain negative. The healthcare provider will ask you to come back after three months, because there is a 'window period' when you have been exposed to HIV but your immune system has not produced any antibodies and so the test cannot pick up if you are positive. To stay negative, use a condom correctly whenever you have sex, and go for medical circumcision.
Some people don't want to go to their local clinic for an HCT test because they don't want people to gossip about them. There are many organisations that offer HCT in the community and even in peoples' homes. See here for the list.
It is better to know your status and take treatment than to be ignorant and risk spreading the disease. Don't put your health and that of your loved ones at risk. Yenzakahle!