*By Erin Parkinson Tee
Everyone first gather around for some “small small” science class. For starters, The Human Immunodeficiency Virus or more commonly known as HIV is one of the most prevalent STD’s in Uganda. It is spread through unprotected sex, exchange of bodily fluids, sharing drug injection equipment or mother-child transmission.
Every homie between 13 and 64 should get tested at least once in a lifetime. BUT straight up!, if you’re sexually active or engaging in unprotected sex (who still does this in 2019?), which can be risky, you should test more regularly as a safeguard for your sexual health. You can find HIV testing available in health clinics, hospitals and other locations.
The most common forms of HIV testing are 3rd and 4th generation antibodies/antigen tests as well as rapid testing. They’re processes involve taking blood or oral fluid samples, usually through blood tests. If you’re not too keen on needles, I’d suggest looking away although it’s quite a quick process! Unfortunately, there are no tests that can detect HIV immediately after suspected infection.
The table below from AVERT has information on how long to wait before you can get tested after suspected infection. If your test results are positive, a follow-up test to determine the full accuracy of the result should be done. However, if you receive a negative result and haven’t been exposed for 3 months you can be sure of your result.
HIV tests can either be done anonymously or confidentially. Confidential testing shares your results with the state department (excluding your name and address) to compile data for your health records that only you and the health center have access to. Anonymous testing detaches your name from the results provides you with a unique identifier to access your test results.
While it is absolutely your decision to keep your results concealed, it’s important that you disclose this information with your sexual partners as it may or may not pose as a health risk for the both of you. If you’re finding it difficult to share the information, especially if you feel threatened by violence, HIV counselling is available in certain health centers and other locations.
Friends and family don’t need to know either however, studies have shown that treatment response is generally better among those who have a wider support system. Further, your employer wouldn’t need to know your status unless your job would put you at risk of transmitting the virus; such as a surgeon as there in a position where bodily fluids can be exchanged.
Knowing your status is important for you and your partners health! Even in a monogamous relationship, you should both know your HIV status, and simply knowing your status doesn’t determine your partners either. For more information on HIV in Uganda follow this link.
*Erin is an intern at Reach A Hand Uganda and currently a student at the University of East Anglia