About AIDS

Testing for HIV: confidential – or anonymous?

National Testing Day is next Monday, June 27, and people are asking, "Confidential or anonymous?" Neither is "better" than the other, except as a matter of comfort. Either way, the result will only be given in person, so no one can get your results except you.

With confidential testing, the person's name is connected to the test result, but that doesn't mean the information is going anywhere except a couple of statistical databases. It certainly isn't given to the tested person's employer, insurance company, spouse, partner, etc. Almost everyone is cool with confidential testing, because state health departments have a sterling record of protecting information.

Anonymous testing does not ask the person's name. You agree with the counselor on an identifying name/number. (No, you can't be Mickey Mouse or George Bush!). Some people are more comfortable getting tested anonymously.

With a name, the Texas health department can avoid duplicating records in the epidemiologic information needed to plan for HIV/AIDS services.

In Texas, parental consent is not required for an HIV test, so youth shouldn't be seen as a barrier to getting tested. Parents would be notified only if the kid is under age 12 and the result is HIV positive.

More than 1 million Americans have HIV, but 25-30% of those don't know it. Almost half of people who get an HIV test done at a public testing site don't return for their results, including 31% of those testing positive! Moral: If you get an HIV test, go back for the results! Not knowing doesn't make this critter go away. It just delays the life-saving care and prevention opportunities that testing offers.

For information about HIV testing, call the local health department at 972-5580; or call ASA at 458-AIDS. Make 2005 the year you took the test – and took control!

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