Scared to test for HIV? Don’t let fear hold you back

By Emen8, updated 10 months ago in Health / Sexual health

man sits on sofa with head in hands appearing worried

Are you afraid of taking an HIV test? Maybe you think it’s too scary, too time-consuming, or too embarrassing. Perhaps you think you don’t need one because you’ve always been careful.

It’s important to remember that HIV doesn’t discriminate — it can affect anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, or gender. And the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV or not is to get tested.

Maybe you’re reading this because it’s been on your mind… but we want to assure you that taking an HIV test isn’t something to be afraid of. By getting tested, you’re taking control of your health and your life. You’re helping to protect yourself, your partners, and your community.

Every test is one more step towards ending the HIV epidemic..

Scared to test for HIV? You’re not alone.

Many of us understand what it’s like to be scared to test for HIV. Getting tested can be daunting. You may have heard stories of long waits, uncomfortable procedures, or insensitive healthcare providers. But things have changed.

Today, there are plenty of options for HIV testing that are quick, easy, and painless. You can choose from various testing sites, including sexual health centres, community hubs, and even your own home. You can opt for a traditional laboratory blood test or get a rapid HIV test that gives you results in just 15 minutes. Many places offer free and confidential HIV testing without needing access to Medicare.

“… taking an HIV test isn’t something to be afraid of. By getting tested, you’re taking control of your health and your life.”

In Adelaide, you can pick up a free HIV self test kit from a vending machine anonymously. Queensland residents can order a free HIV self test kit to use at home. And if you’re in New South Wales, a Dried Blood Spot test is a free, easy and private way to test for HIV without needing to go to a clinic or see a doctor.

Know that your HIV test results are always confidential and private. In Australia, nobody can secretly perform an HIV test on you without your consent.

You can discover more about these HIV testing options in our Knowledge Hub.

man sits opposite friendly doctor during health check

What would an HIV-positive diagnosis mean?

You may be worried about the outcome of the test. What if it’s positive? What if I have HIV? And although these concerns are understandable, we want you to know that living with HIV is no longer the death sentence it was over 25 years ago.

Thanks to incredible advances in HIV treatment and care, people with HIV can live healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives. These incredible advances also mean that people living with HIV who use treatment cannot pass HIV onto to their sexual partners.

Unfortunately, for people with untreated HIV, this can be serious and potentially life-threatening. Untreated HIV can have long-lasting effects on your health and well-being.

If you do have HIV, starting treatment as soon as possible is the best way to protect your health and prevent the virus from spreading further. It’s also important to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally and to seek support from others who have been in your shoes. Just know that you won’t be alone, and there are plenty of allies out there too.

“Remember that testing is a big part of who we are …”

Certain HIV organisations hire HIV Peer Support Workers. These workers can offer reassurance, link you with helpful services, help address your queries, and facilitate connections with other HIV-positive folks. There’s a thriving community of people who understand what it’s like to be diagnosed with HIV and are there to offer support every step of the way.

And if you’re applying for an Australian visa, receiving an HIV diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your migration journey. In fact, if you are thinking of migrating permanently to Australia, it is better to know your HIV status sooner so you can get the right advice. Here’s what you need to know about HIV and immigration in Australia.

young asian man appears confident

Put an end to your fears and book that HIV test

Don’t let an undiagnosed virus cause you harm. Don’t wait until you’re sick. Don’t let fear or shame hold you back. You’re worth it, and so is your health and happiness. You’re not alone, and there are people and resources out there to help you. Take advantage of them. Remember that testing is a big part of who we are; it’s key for looking after yourself and your partners.

So, go ahead and make that appointment, or order that HIV home test kit. And if you need help with understanding your options, know that we’re here for you — get in touch any time.

Need info on how HIV is (and isn’t) transmitted? For an up-to-date overview, look no further than HIV 101: 2023 edition.

Getting HIV doesn’t always come with symptoms. If you’re concerned, here’s how to recognise the signs.

If you’d like to find a gay-friendly doctor, we’ve compiled a handy guide to finding one. You can also find sexual health testing services and HIV self test kit stockists near you with our interactive map.

Organisations specialising in LGBTQ health and support for people living with HIV operate in every state and territory across Australia. Find yours here.

For community-led support for people living with HIV in Australia, check out the TIM (The Institute of Many) website and Facebook page.