There are a number of important reasons to be tested for HIV. For those who think they may have been exposed to the virus, having a test and receiving a negative result (which means they are not infected with HIV), can put their mind at rest.

If the HIV test is positive, there are a number of things that can be done to help a person cope with the result and lead a healthy life.

* A person who tests positive will at some point need to take antiretroviral treatment to slow down the virus and maintain a healthy immune system. The longer a person remains unaware of their infection, the less likely it is that the treatment will work. Doctors can monitor an HIV positive person’s health in order to provide the right treatment regimen at the right time.

* If a person is aware of their HIV infection they can take steps to protect other people. They can practice safer sex and inform previous sexual partners that they may have been at risk of infection.

* Those who test positive who were thinking of starting a family can learn about ways to protect their child from becoming infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission

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