The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that has infected over 6 million people worldwide. As there is presently no cure for HIV, many Singaporeans have become wary of contracting the virus. The general public has an instilled fear of HIV and HIV-positive patients. Extremely wary people may even be paranoid when they interact with HIV-positive people on a day-to-day basis. Ironically, many people have never actually had a HIV test in Singapore before. Sometimes, it is because they are unaware that HIV tests exist. Some people may also feel like getting tested is an unnecessary hassle, since they have never exhibited signs or symptoms of HIV. These people may not know that some HIV patients do not exhibit symptoms until very late stages of the infection. It is recommended that anyone who has ever had sexual intercourse is tested for STDs. In this article, we will introduce a short step-by-step guide to help you evaluate how likely you are to have HIV and provide information on where you can get tested.
To help you get started, you should ask yourself these simple questions:
- Have you ever had casual anal or vaginal sex (hook-up or one-night stand) without a condom protecting the penis? This applies whether you are a man or woman.
- Have you ever had sex while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs?
- Have you ever shared a needle with another person?
If your answer to any of the above questions is “Yes”, then you are at a higher risk of being infected with HIV. Below are some of the possible factors that could heighten or lower your risk:
Your previous partners
If you have ever had unprotected sex with casual partners, then your risk for contracting HIV goes up significantly. This is because HIV mainly transmits through sexual fluids and direct contact with your partner’s sexual fluids (vaginal, anal or seminal) could result in a transfer of the virus. People who attend sex parties or have sex with multiple different partners are at an even higher risk of HIV.
Do you know of your partner’s sexual history? The risk of HIV is definitely lowered if they have previously been celibate or had few sexual partners before you.
If you have only had unprotected sex with your long-term monogamous partner, the risks are much lower. However, if you do suspect that your partner has had sex with other people, then you may consider getting tested to be safe.
Consciousness during sex
If you frequently have sex while intoxicated, you should also get tested. When you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is possible that the protection taken was compromised. The condom may have slipped off or you may not even remember anything that happened during the sexual encounter.
Whether you are at a high or low risk of HIV infection, you should still get tested at an HIV clinic. At an STD clinic in Singapore, you will be able to have a confidential consultation with an STD doctor who specialises in treatment and care for patients with STDs.