As the AIDS epidemic has progressed, few of the many issues that have been raised have been as controversial as the now highly politicized issue of HIV testing. Debates over when and where testing should occur and who should be tested have been a major part of the unfolding societal response to the epidemic. This relatively simple tool for detecting the presence of antibodies to the HIV virus in the blood is the first evidence of infection and, in terms of the current state of knowledge, the first step in the patient career trajectory that for most, if not all, carriers will progress over a period of time to full blown AIDS and death.