Hiv Diagnosis And ‘window Period’
You wonât know if you have HIV right after youâre infected. It takes time for your body to make antibodies and for antigens to show up.
The âwindow periodâ is the time between when you might have been exposed to HIV and a test can tell for sure you have it. This varies from person to person and test to test. Your testing counselor can tell you more about the window period for the test youâre taking. Here are some general guidelines:
An antibody test can detect HIV 23 to 90 days after youâre exposed to the virus. The window for a test that uses blood from a vein is faster than one that uses oral fluid or blood from a finger stick.
An antigen/antibody test done in a lab on blood from a vein can detect HIV infection within 18 to 45 days. It takes longer if the testâs done with blood from a finger stick.
A nucleic acid test usually has the shortest window: 10 to 33 days. This test is not generally used to diagnose HIV infection unless you have symptoms and a history that suggest you were infected only a few days ago.
If you have a negative test and werenât exposed to the virus during the window period for that test, you can be certain you didnât have HIV when you were tested.
The CDC recommends that all adults have an HIV test at least once, even if theyâre not at risk. If your risk is higher — for example, you have multiple sex partners or use needles for drugs — you should be tested every year.
Symptom : Night Sweats
Many people will get night sweats during the early stages of HIV. These can be even more common later in infection and arent related to exercise or the temperature of the room.
With such a vast array of symptoms, HIV testing is vital to ensure a proper diagnosis. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, or have an active sex life with casual sex partners, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of HIV or not, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
Hiv Transmission Can Occur After Only One Exposure
Assigning an actual percentage to the “riskiness” of a certain activity is a tricky business. While statistics may suggest that there is only a 1-in-200 chance of getting infected by such-and-such activity, that doesn’t mean you cant get infected after only one exposure.
Instead, a 0.5% “per exposure” risk is meant to indicate that an average of one infection will occur out of 200 people who engage in a particular activity. It doesn’t mean that you need to do something 200 times in order to get infected.
It’s important to remember that risk estimates are based on two factors and two factors alonethat one person has HIV and the other doesn’t. Additional co-factors, such as co-existing sexually transmitted infections , general health, and the infected person’s viral load, can further compound risk until a low-risk activity is suddenly considerably higher.
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Having Syphilis Makes It Easier To Contract Hiv
If someone is HIV-negative, having syphilis can make it easier to contract HIV. This is because sores or inflammation due to syphilis can make it easier for HIV to enter the body.
A 2020 meta-analysis evaluated 22 studies involving a total of 65,232 participants. It found that HIV incidence doubled in people with syphilis compared to those without syphilis.
This association may also work the other way around. A of 4,907 HIV-positive individuals found that repeat syphilis infections increased over 11 years of follow-up. Factors associated with repeat syphilis in this study included:
- younger age
- being assigned male at birth
- having a previous history of STIs
Both syphilis and HIV share risk factors when it comes to sex, such as having sex without a condom or having many sexual partners.
Are People Living With Hiv At Greater Risk For Getting The New Coronavirus
Scientists arent certain yet. While earlier studies did not show an association, recent research points to a heightened risk for acquiring the coronavirus, severe illness, hospitalization, and death in people with HIVand the risk may be higher for people who are not on HIV treatment and have a low CD4 count.
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How Is Hiv Spread
Many people who are infected with HIV do not know they are infected. This is because the virus can live in your body for years before you develop symptoms. The following are common ways HIV may be spread:
- Contact with blood or certain body fluids of an infected person
- Sex with an infected person, especially in men who have sex with men
- Injecting drugs with needles or other equipment used by an infected person
- From an infected mother to her baby before or during birth or through breast milk
Whats Next If The Test Is Positive
If a person gets a positive result, a qualified lab should retest the sample to make sure it was not inaccurate or have another sample tested. A positive result on a follow-up test means that a person has HIV.
Its recommended that people who test positive for HIV see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
A medical professional can get a person with HIV started on antiretroviral therapy right away. This is a medication that helps stop HIV from replicating and can help prevent transmission of HIV to other people.
Its important to use condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods with any and all sexual partners and refrain from sharing needles while waiting for test results or until the virus becomes undetectable in the blood.
Seeing a therapist or joining a support group, whether in person or online, can help cope with the emotions and health issues that come with an HIV diagnosis. Dealing with HIV can be stressful and difficult to discuss with even the closest friends and family.
Speaking privately with a therapist or being part of a community made up of others with the same medical condition can help a person understand how to lead a healthy, active life after diagnosis.
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Use Condoms And Other Barrier Methods
If theres any chance youll be putting the tip into any orifice, putting a condom on it significantly reduces the risk of HIV and other infections.
Adding lube to the mix can help, too, and is especially important during anal sex.
Lube helps with dryness and friction and reduces the risk of tears that can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream. It also lowers the chances of the condom breaking.
How Is An Hiv Infection Treated
HIV cannot be cured. The main goal of treatment is to improve your health. The second goal is to slow the progression from HIV to AIDS. Your healthcare provider will decide your treatment based on your CD4 cell and viral load counts. Tell him or her if you ever had an allergic reaction to or other problem with any medicine. You may need any of the following:
- Antiretroviral medicines slow the progression of HIV. They are given in different combinations called highly active antiretroviral therapy . Your healthcare provider will decide what kind of HAART you need. You may need to make HAART changes if you have severe side effects or develop resistance to a medicine.
- Antimicrobial medicines kill or prevent bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.
- Preventative medicines may be given to protect you from opportunistic infections. These are illnesses that develop because your immune system cannot fight the bacteria or viruses that cause them. Examples include toxoplasmosis, Pneumocystis pneumonia , and tuberculosis.
- Vaccines may help prevent the flu, pneumonia, hepatitis, and other infections.
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Unlikely Modes Of Transmission
- Night sweats
- Genital, anal, or mouth ulcers
This range of symptoms, typically referred to as acute retroviral syndrome , generally begin within five days of exposure and usually last for around 14 days .
If you have had a recent exposureâsuch as unprotected sex with a partner of unknown statusâthese early signs and symptoms strongly suggest the need for immediate HIV testing.
With that said, not everyone experiences ARS in the same way. The symptoms are non-specific and often mild and are sometimes attributed to other conditions, such as the common cold or simple exhaustion.
According to a 2016 review in Emerging Infectious Diseases, as many as 43% of acute HIV infections are entirely asymptomatic .ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿
Less commonly, some people may develop atypical symptoms of HIV soon after exposure, some of which may be serious. These include tonsillitis, meningitis, herpes zoster , gastric bleeding, and esophageal thrush.
What Should I Do If I Come Into Contact With Blood Or Body Fluids
If you come into contact with blood or body fluids, always treat them as potentially infectious. If you prick yourself with a used needle, hold the affected limb down low to get it to bleed. Do not squeeze the wound or soak it in bleach. Wash the area with warm water and soap.
If you are splashed with blood or body fluids and your skin has an open wound, healing sore, or scratch, wash the area well with soap and water. If you are splashed in the eyes, nose or mouth, rinse well with water. If you have been bitten, wash the wound with soap and water.
If you are sexually assaulted, go to the hospital emergency department as soon as possible. Reporting the incident immediately after a sexual assault can help to ensure that as much evidence as possible is obtained. For more information about sexual assault and to learn what support services are available, visit JusticeBC at www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/reporting-a-crime/what-is-a-crime/crime-examples/sexual-assault.
If you have come into contact with blood or body fluids in any of the ways described above, you may need treatment as soon as possible to protect against infection. It is important that you are assessed as soon as possible after the contact.
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Contaminated Blood Transfusions And Organ/tissue Transplants
- receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV. This risk is extremely small because most countries test blood products for HIV first.
If adequate safety practices are not in place, healthcare workers can also be at risk of HIV from cuts made by a needle or sharp object with infected blood on it. However, the risk of occupational exposure, is very low in most countries.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, the only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test.
Put An End To Your Fears Stop Googling And Go Get Tested
Occasionally, we here at TheBody.com are lucky enough to hear from readers who volunteer to craft their own articles sharing their stories and thoughts. This is one of those articles.
Typing “HIV” into Google for the first time was a terrifying experience. The Internet can be a scary place — especially for a hypochondriac like myself.
The swarm of anxiety comes thanks to the excess of information out there that is mostly misleading, confusing or downright scary. I’d read, be consumed with my deepest fears, then quickly delete my history and hope no one was looking over my shoulder.
That was the game for me.
Soon I realized I wasn’t alone. Google’s top answers often led to high-traffic message boards that are breeding grounds for misinformation. Responses vary from ignorant to downright cruel and no one is an expert.
The Google search would continue: Analyzing symptoms that are similar to the common cold, attempting to determine my risk factors and viewing statistics that are mostly irrelevant to that “drowning in fear” feeling.
For me, it became a routine. I wanted all the information that I could find to tell me that I didn’t have HIV. I learned I wasn’t “high risk.” I am a sexually active heterosexual male with fewer than 10 partners — all of whom I knew and/or was in a relationship with.
My leg was still shaking he left the room to get the results. He returned moments later.
Negative. I did not have HIV.
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What Should I Know Before I Start Pep
When you go to the hospital or clinic, you will be asked to have an HIV test. Taking an HIV test at this time will let you know if you already have HIV or not. It is your choice whether or not to take the HIV test.
There may be a cost for PEP and it may be covered by your health insurance. Ask your provider about costs for PEP before starting it.
PEP combines three HIV drugs that you take for four weeks. Some HIV drugs may not be safe for pregnant women. Be sure to let the doctor or health care worker know if you may be pregnant so that they know which drugs to give you.
Barriers To Hiv Testing For Young People
The World Health Organization 2013 guidelines for HTC for adolescents highlight the programmatic barriers currently preventing adolescents from accessing HIV testing, and what can be done to overcome them.101
In many countries, the age of consent for testing for HIV is high at around 18 to 21, leaving people younger than this having to obtain parental consent. This is much more likely to result in a young person not getting an HIV test when discussions with parents around sexual relations and HIV are necessary. For many orphaned young people, parental consent is not an option and so they are denied access.102 Age of consent laws to HIV testing should be removed.
HTC services must be open at appropriate times , and be at appropriate venues where young people feel safe enough to go alone.103 Healthcare workers must be trained to meet the needs of young people, in order that they do not face stigma, judgement, or a breech in confidentiality. Young people need extra support to transfer to treatment if they test positive, as they may otherwise get lost in the treatment cascade.104
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Hiv Treatment & Undetectable
Todays HIV treatments, called antiretroviral therapy or ART, are extremely effective. Some treatments are a single tablet. Long-acting injectable medications are likely to be approved and available soon. Medicine has come a long way since the first HIV treatment options became available in the 1990s.
There is still no functional cure for HIV, but ART can help people live long, healthy lives. Todays medications are provided in combinations that reduce a persons viral load to levels so low its undetectable. People who become undetectable cannot transmit the virus to others.
Viral load is a term that describes how much virus a person living with HIV has in their body.
Without HIV medications, the virus replicates which causes the amount of virus in the body to increase.
HIV medications prevent HIV from making copies of itself. Then, the amount of HIV in the body goes down.
To see how well HIV treatments are working, doctors and other providers measure the amount of virus in the blood and report a measurement called your viral load. Its simply a measurement of how many copies of the virus are in a single unit of blood.
A very low amount of virus may even be undetectable by viral load tests . A common undetectable level is < 20 copies per milliliter of blood. Low viral loads are those that are less than 200 copies per milliliter. Very high viral loads can be over 500,000 copies per milliliter.
What Will Happen At The Emergency Department
You will be asked to give informed consent in order for your blood to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C. Your treatment will be determined based on the type of exposure to blood or body fluids and your test results. The health care provider may also try to determine whether the persons blood or body fluid with which you had contact may be infectious for HIV, hepatitis B and C.
In case of possible exposure to HIV, the health care provider may start you on a course of antiviral medications without waiting for test results. These medications should be started as soon as possible, and are most effective if started within 2 hours of exposure. You will be referred to your own health care provider if you need to continue taking these medications for 1 full month.
To help protect you from hepatitis B disease, you may be given a hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin. Hepatitis B immune globulin contains antibodies that provide immediate but short-term protection against hepatitis B virus. The hepatitis B vaccine provides long lasting protection by helping your body make its own antibodies against the virus.
There is no vaccine to prevent infection with hepatitis C. Blood tests will show if you were exposed to hepatitis C or have acquired the virus.
If you have a serious cut or wound you may need to get the tetanus vaccine depending upon the type of wound and your immunization history.
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How Hiv Enters The Penis
About 70% of men infected with HIV have acquired the virus through vaginal sex, and a smaller number have acquired it from insertive anal intercourse. Thus, on a global scale most men who are HIV positive have acquired the virus via the penis. This raises questions of how HIV enters the penis and why men who are uncircumcised are potentially more susceptible to becoming infected with HIV.
The uncircumcised penis consists of the penile shaft, glans, urethral meatus, inner and outer surface of the foreskin, and the frenulum, the thin band connecting the inner foreskin to the ventral aspect of the glans. A keratinised, stratified squamous epithelium covers the penile shaft and outer surface of the foreskin. This provides a protective barrier against HIV infection. In contrast, the inner mucosal surface of the foreskin is not keratinised and is rich in Langerhans’ cells, making it particularly susceptible to the virus. This is particularly important because during heterosexual intercourse the foreskin is pulled back down the shaft of the penis, and the whole inner surface of the foreskin is exposed to vaginal secretions, providing a large area where HIV transmission could take place.