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Getting Tested for HIV: Important for Gay Teens

Options Include Blood Tests, Oral Swab Tests and Home Testing Kits

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aids gay teens

It is important for gay teens to get tested for HIV.

Sexually active gay teens should get tested for HIV. This can be done through a standard blood test or with an oral test. In some places you can get results in twenty minutes. In others, you might have to wait a week or more.

HIV, is the virus that can lead to AIDS. It's been with us for well over thirty years, but that doesn't mean that it is not longer an issue. In fact, in America, the majority of new cases of HIV are among young men who have sex with men.

This is a big concern for a lot of young gay guys. As one teen says,

"I'd really like to have a boyfriend, but I'm really afraid of the prevalence of HIV in gay men, especially younger men. This is REALLY causing a lot of stress and depression in my life.

Here's the thing, if you are currently HIV negative it is possible to stay that way. While it is true that young gay men should be concerned and aware of their HIV risk, if someone is currently HIV negative (which means s/he does not have the virus) it is totally possible to stay that way, even if having sex with a partner who is HIV positive (which means s/he does have the virus). At the most basic level, HIV is something that is in your control.

Of course, for teens who are very stressed out and worried about this, having sex might not be the right choice right now. There are also plenty of ways to be intimate without having intercourse. Having a boyfriend doesn't automatically mean you have to have sex.

But if someone does decide to have sex, there are ways to avoid HIV.

One really important way is to always practice safe sex, especially by using a condom for vaginal, anal and oral sex. Since HIV cannot be transmitted through casual contact and you can't just "catch AIDS" from someone, condoms are a great option for sexually active teens who want to stay safe.

Another way to help stay HIV negative is to get tested for HIV regularly and have your partners do the same. So how do you get tested for HIV? About's Guide to STDs explain that there are four main ways.

Standard Blood Tests. These can take up to one to two weeks to get results. Because of the potential for a false positive test, any positive blood test is always repeated and then rechecked by a different, test before a diagnosis is given.

Rapid Testing: Rapid test results are available in 20 minutes. Just as with standard blood tests, a positive rapid test must be confirmed by another, more specific test, before a diagnosis is given.

Oral Testing: There are two FDA approved tests that use oral fluids instead of blood.

Home Testing: There is only one FDA approved home test for HIV called the Home Access Kit. It is carried by many drug stores. Using this test you take your own blood sample and send it to a national laboratory. Then you call in to get the results. Counseling is available both before taking the test and before getting a result.

If you are sexually active, or use needles, it is really important to get tested for HIV. The test itself isn't so hard. But it can be really tough for teens to psych themselves up to actually go and take it.

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