Ask an Expert: Why Is It Important to Know Your HIV Status and How Can I Get Tested?

This article is part of Health Divide: HIV, a destination in our Health Divide series.

Ask an expert: Dr. Shepherd

Xiaoyu Liu / Verywell

Verywell Health: Why is it important to know your HIV status?

Dr. Shepherd: The importance of knowing one’s HIV status is not just for the individual and their health, but also for the community, which includes a person’s current and future partners.

HIV is a public health issue. We are all responsible for our community, and the way that we best protect our individual health and the community’s health is by knowing our status and being able to transparently discuss our status with others.

Verywell Health: How do I get tested?

Dr. Shepherd: If a person has been exposed to HIV, the first step is to get tested in order to get a diagnosis. See a healthcare provider to get tested, whether that’s in a physician’s office or a community health center.

We’ve advanced so much in HIV awareness and education. Now we have a lot of community-based organizations in cities with high populations to conduct rapid HIV testing. That’s so important for marginalized communities that don’t have access to hospitals or clinics, and for the homeless population.

We need areas where people can access care, as well as have trust in where they’re going, so they have the ability to be more open and transparent about getting tested.