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How do I Choose the Best HIV Testing Center?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Being tested for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be frightening. Although testing is wise for anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus, going to an HIV testing center may be a difficult and scary process. By choosing an HIV testing center that is willing and capable of fulfilling a patient's needs, the experience can be made much less stressful.

While many general practitioners offer testing for sexually transmitted diseases, a person may not be comfortable visiting his usual family doctor for this test. Because exposure to the virus is often through sexual activity, a person seeking testing may feel embarrassed or even concerned that other family members will be told by a gossiping doctor. On the other hand, if the patient is comfortable with his doctor and trusts him, they can be sure that the doctor will take care of the test and return results as quickly as possible. A family doctor may also be useful in providing treatment and counseling if the patient tests positive for HIV.

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Another common site for an HIV testing center is a women's clinic or a family planning clinic. Some patients, particularly those underage, may be drawn to these clinics for the anonymity they provide. Often clinics will provide testing services free or at low cost, so people with a lack of funds can still receive the testing they need. The downside to clinics is that they may seem cold and uninvolved in their patients' issues, and may lack sensitivity to a patient's fear or anxiety. Potential patients may want to check and see if this type of HIV testing center offers counseling for people with HIV before choosing to visit them for testing.

One type of HIV testing center that offers convenience and anonymity is a mobile center. These traveling clinics offer testing services in a variety of areas and social centers, particularly in low-income areas. For the patient who simply wants to get the test over with, this may be the quickest and most clinical option.

If a patient believes that he or she has been exposed to HIV within a few hours, they may wish to visit a hospital for immediate treatment. Although emergency fees can run very high, quick response can actually prevent infection after exposure. There is no known cure for HIV, but some drugs do exist that can stop the infection if given within a few hours. People like hospital workers or EMTs may come into contact with contaminated blood or body fluids in the course of their work, and may be able to avoid infection by being tested and treated immediately.

While being tested for HIV will never be an enjoyable experience, patients can take some comfort in the fact that the modern tests are extremely accurate and return results quickly. By undergoing the test, a person can protect those around them from unwitting exposure and begin treatment as quickly as possible. When choosing an HIV testing site, look for professional workers who will treat patients with empathy and respect, and offer counseling and assistance with treatment should it be required.

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