HIV testing basics

HIV testing basics

Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least one time in their life.

People with risk factors for HIV should be tested more frequently. You should be tested for HIV if you:

  • Have had sex with a new partner
  • Have been diagnosed or sought treatment for another sexually transmitted infection
  • Had sex with a man who has had sex with another man
  • Been diagnosed or treated for hepatitis or Tuberculosis
  • Used injection drugs, or ever exchanged sex for money or drugs, or
  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant

HIV is actually very treatable, often times with just one pill once daily. People who are on treatment and take treatment as prescribed can live long lives. I frequently tell patients that if they take their HIV medicines as prescribed they can live to be an “old person” and die of “old-person illnesses,” not their HIV.

The goal of HIV testing is to be healthy.  If you test positive, you can improve your health by getting on treatment.  If you test negative, you can discuss with your health care provider if you are a candidate for pre-exposure prophylaxis known as PrEP, which is medicine to prevent acquisition of HIV.

HIV does not discriminate based on age, prosperity or sexual preference. Get tested and get healthy.

For more information, contact your local health department:

  • Cabell-Huntington Health Department – 304-523-6483
  • Kanawha-Charleston Health Department – 304-344-5243
  • Putnam County Health Department – 304-757-2541
  • Lawrence County (Ohio) Health Department – 740-532-3962 

You can also contact our HIV Clinic at Marshall Internal Medicine at 304-691-1000.


Kara S. Willenburg, MD

Dr. Willenburg is an assistant professor of medicine and chief of infectious disease at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. She and her team work closely with local health departments to provide expert advice, care for at-risk populations and aid in prevention.