Those involved in the HIV-testing debate both politically and personally
should see the test as one of several approaches to coping with the
epidemic rather than as a goal in and of itself, say Peter Goldblum,
co-AUthor of "Strategies for Survival: A Gay Man's Health Manual for the
Age of AIDS," and Robert Marks, assistant editor of Focus. To be tested
could lead to discrimination or trigger depression and suicidal behavior.
Not to be tested could mean negating the possibility of early, preventive
treatment, or, for women, depriving oneself of knowledge necessary to
decide whether to bear children. Some activists say no one should be
tested unless they are guaranteed anonymity and freedom from
discrimination. Test results should not be used to determine whether to
practice safe sex. Counselors need to know all the options to help
clients decide whether or not to be tested. Some have had success with a
"Benefit-Risk" analysis that weighs the pros and cons of being tested.
Ultimately, the client must decide, but the counselor can help by putting
the decision into a larger context of beliefs about medicine, death, the
quality of life, religion, spirituality, and politics.