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World Aids Day 2023: Get Tested, Know Your Status

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores the importance of HIV testing in light of World AIDS Day.

“On 1st December, the world unites for World AIDS Day,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“The theme for this year, World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit, serves as a tribute to those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS and underscores our shared responsibility to persist until HIV is eradicated as a public health threat.”

Understanding HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases.

Over time, HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a condition where the immune system becomes severely damaged, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

HIV Statistics

Sadly, South Africa has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates globally. According to UNAIDS, an estimated 7.5 million people are living with HIV in our country.

Although South Africa has implemented extensive HIV prevention, treatment, and care campaigns, including one of the most extensive antiretroviral therapy (ART) programmes globally, far more needs to be done to tackle HIV.

Why HIV Testing Matters

Getting tested for HIV is essential for several reasons:

  1. Early Detection: HIV is most treatable when detected early. Starting ART can help manage the virus, maintain a healthy immune system, and prevent the progression of AIDS.
  2. Preventing Transmission: People living with HIV who are aware of their status can take precautions to avoid transmitting the virus to others. This includes practising safe sex and, for pregnant individuals, taking measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
  3. Peace of Mind: HIV testing provides peace of mind, allowing individuals to know their status and make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships.

When to Get Tested for HIV

Determining when to get tested for HIV depends on various factors, including your sexual activity, drug use, and potential exposure to the virus. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Regular Testing

Sexually active individuals should undergo annual HIV testing, even if they engage in safe sex practices.


High-Risk Activities

If you engage in high-risk sexual activities, such as having multiple partners or unprotected sex, it’s crucial to get tested more frequently. Consider every three to six months.


New Sexual Partner

Whenever you start a new sexual relationship, you and your partner should consider getting tested for HIV. Knowing your status and openly discussing it is an essential part of responsible sexual behaviour.



If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, HIV testing is a standard part of prenatal care. Identifying HIV during pregnancy allows for interventions to prevent transmission to the baby.


Drug Use

If you use injection drugs or share needles, you should get tested regularly for HIV and other bloodborne infections. The sharing of needles is a high-risk activity for HIV transmission.


Potential Exposure

If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex or other means, consider getting tested as soon as possible. Early detection is crucial in such cases.

Testing Options

HIV testing is widely accessible and confidential. Here are the standard testing options:

  • Rapid HIV Tests: These tests provide results in as little as 20 minutes and are often offered at clinics, health centres, or community organisations.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests, such as the enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and nucleic acid test (NAT), detect HIV antibodies or genetic material in the blood. These tests are highly accurate and may take a few days for results.
  • Oral Fluid Tests: An oral fluid test involves swabbing the inside of the mouth to detect HIV antibodies. It’s a less invasive option but may be less sensitive in detecting recent infections.
  • Home Testing Kits: Home testing kits are available over the counter and provide privacy and convenience. These kits typically involve a self-administered oral swab or fingerstick blood sample. Users can access results within minutes.

“It’s important to emphasise that privacy laws protect your results,” adds Hewlett. “Testing centres and healthcare providers are committed to ensuring that your information remains confidential, allowing you to access care without fear of discrimination or stigma.”

Join Affinity Health in spreading the message of World AIDS Day by using the hashtag #WorldAIDSDay on social media. Together, we can create a world where HIV is better understood, stigma is eliminated, and treatment and prevention are accessible to all.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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