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Today, we are fortunate to have effective treatment for people living with HIV. Early treatment helps people with HIV live longer and dramatically reduce the possibility of transmitting the virus to others. Everyone should know their HIV status and be tested at least once for HIV.
People living with HIV may have no symptoms for many years. VA recommends HIV testing for all Veterans at least once in their lifetime - even those who do not think they are at risk. HIV is a chronic disease and as with many other diseases, it is better to diagnose and treat HIV early.
Routine HIV testing
VA's goal is to make HIV testing routine - like testing for cholesterol or diabetes. Routine testing and early treatment can give people with HIV life-saving care before they become sick. VA has tested over 43% of Veterans in care but that means we still have many Veterans to reach. VA is recommitting to making sure every Veteran is offered the test at least once, that testing is done efficiently, and Veterans who need it are linked to care quickly.
Say yes to the HIV test
Take time to check your HIV status. Talk to your health care provider about getting an HIV test if you have not had one. Remember, the results of the test are confidential and will not affect your VA benefits. If you test negative but are concerned about ongoing risk, ask your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which is an effective way to prevent HIV for those at risk. If your health care provider does not bring up HIV testing, you should. Remember, it does not hurt to be sure. Finding out about HIV and being treated early can keep you and the ones you love healthy. It can even save your life! And remember that using Secure Messaging as part of My HealtheVet means that communications with your health care team are safe and secure.