The importance of HIV screening for those engaging in regular sexual intercourse with casual partners (usually one-time) cannot be emphasized enough.

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Although HIV is actually quite rare (approximately 36 million people live with it worldwide), it is the most serious of all diseases spread through sexual contact.

It can be spread though blood contact as well as vaginal and anal sex. Thankfully oral sex is negligible risk.

Often you will hear about the ARS (acute retroviral syndrome) symptoms, being described as the worst flu ever. But only about 60% of those who are truly infected with HIV will experience this. And just because you have a bad flu doesn’t mean you have HIV. Therefore the symptoms (or lack of) can be misleading and people have no idea they may have been infected.

This is where screening comes in, particularly rapid testing which only takes 20 minutes. By doing simple fingerprick or oral swab test you can know your status very quickly. Hopefully it comes back all clear (negative) then we can rest easier but if it is positive then we can start to deal with it quickly to get the HIV under control so that you can lead a normal life.

From my experience the overwhelming majority of those who test with me come back as negative but there are the few that do come back as positive. They are often shocked because they had no indication this was the case. But because they were detected before any serious problems had arisen, they can seek treatment and get control of HIV quite quickly.

So in conclusion, taking risks with HIV is just not worth it. The very least is to screen regularly to ensure any potential infection is caught early. Other options include the PEP (which can be used soon after a risky exposure to minimise risk) or even the PrEP (which is used longer term to prevent an infection).

Check out the full HIV article as well as the screening article as well.

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