Testing Positive On Hiv Antibody Tests
Since the early days of the HIV epidemic, we have used antibody tests to test for HIV. Antibody tests are the most affordable and accessible HIV tests. They are the most common types of HIV tests at testing sites around the world because they provide rapid, on-the-spot results.
Antibody tests do not detect HIV. Instead, they detect antibodies that the immune system produces in response to HIV infection.
WHAT ARE ANTIBODIES?
Our immune systems develop antibodies in response to all kinds of pathogens. Anytime you get sick or get any kind of infection, your body builds up a defense system and creates antibodies to try and fight that specific infection off. If these antibodies are successful, some infections will go away but the antibodies never do. They will remain in your body, helping to protect you from getting the same infection in the future.
In this way, antibodies allow our bodies to remember a specific infectious agentlike a particular strain of the fluand then respond to it more quickly if exposed to it again in the future. Once we develop antibodies to a virus we may have those antibodies for life or for many years.
HIV ANTIBODIES WHEN YOURE UNDETECTABLE
How Long Do I Have To Be On Treatment Before My Viral Load Becomes Undetectable
It will be possible for most people diagnosed with HIV to reach an undetectable viral load within 3 to 6 months of starting treatment. However, if someone starts treatment very late and therefore has a low CD4 count, or they dont take their pills as prescribed, then it will make reaching undetectable more difficult. It is important not to assume that everyone who is living with HIV will be able to reach or sustain an undetectable viral load.
What We Know About Hormone And Steroid Injecting
Hormone and steroid injections can be done safely by a health care provider. But theres a chance that someone can get or transmit HIV if an HIV-negative person uses needles, syringes, or other injection equipment after someone with HIV has used them. This is because the needles, syringes, or other injection equipment may have blood in them, and blood can carry HIV. Likewise, youre at risk for getting or transmitting hepatitis B and C if you share syringes because these infections are also transmitted through blood.
More Information About 1 out of every 10 HIV diagnoses in the United States is among people who inject drugs. This includes gay and bisexual men who inject drugs. On average, an HIV-negative person has a 1 in 420 chance of getting HIV from a needlestick if the needle or syringe contains HIV-infected blood.
More Information There may be extremely tiny amounts of blood in syringes or works that you may not be able to see, but could still carry HIV. Be aware that HIV can survive in a used syringe for up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
There are medicines to treat hepatitis B. If youve never had hepatitis B, theres a vaccine to prevent it. There are medicines to treat hepatitis C, but they arent right for everyone. Theres no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about hepatitis B and C.
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People Living With Hiv Who Are On Antiretroviral Treatment And Maintain An Undetectable Viral Load For At Least Six Months Do Not Sexually Transmit Hiv
For more up to date news and information on Undetectable Viral Load, please visit Ending HIV.
New research shows that starting treatment as soon as possible can make it easier for people living with HIV to get an undetectable viral load sooner and live longer and healthier lives.
Being undetectable does not mean cured â as of yet, there is still no cure for HIV. But it does mean that a person living with HIV will have more health benefits, including not being able to transmit HIV through condomless sex.
For some people, it could take a while to to get their viral load to an undetectable level, and some people might not ever be able to get there despite adhering to medications. Its important that people living with HIV dont feel pressured or expected to have an undetectable viral load.
Having an undetectable viral load also does not provide protection from any other STIs like syphilis, gonorrhoea, or LGV.
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Integrate U = U Into Routine Hiv Care
- Adherence to ART is essential for achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load.
- It can take up to 6 months to achieve an undetectable viral load.
- Regular viral load testing is the only way to know if viral levels are undetectable.
- At least 2 consecutive undetectable results over a 6 month period are required before U = U can be used as a prevention strategy.
- An undetectable viral load does not prevent transmission or acquisition of other sexually transmitted infections .
- In addition to U = U, other highly effective ways of preventing HIV transmission/acquisition include condoms and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis .
Condoms are the only effective strategy to help prevent other STIs.
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Causes Of Hiv Infection
It’s a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
Other ways of getting HIV include:
- sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment
- transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
The chance of getting HIV through oral sex is very low and will be dependent on many things, such as whether you receive or give oral sex and the oral hygiene of the person giving the oral sex.
If I Have A Viral Load Blip Could I Pass On Hiv
People with an undetectable viral load sometimes experience what are called blips in their viral load. Their viral load increases from undetectable to a low but detectable level before becoming undetectable again on the next test.
For example, your viral load may temporarily rise to 60 copies/ml or 150 copies/ml. This should not be a cause for concern.
Remember that in the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, undetectable was defined as below 200 copies/ml. These studies showed that transmission does not occur below this level.
However, a blip could indicate a problem if it happens around the same time as missed or late doses of your medication, or if your viral load stays above detectable on two consecutive tests.
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Viral Load And Being Undetectable
Medical evidence has shown that people on effective HIV treatment cant pass HIV on.
Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood.
A viral load test shows how much of the virus is in the body by measuring how many particles of HIV are in a blood sample. The results are given as the number of copies of HIV per millilitre of blood for example 200 copies/ml.
What Happens If I Stop Taking Antiretroviral Therapy
When therapy is stopped, viral load rebounds, and the risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner in the absence of other prevention methods returns. NIAID-supported research has provided clear-cut scientific evidence to support the benefits of staying on continuous antiretroviral treatment. In 2006, NIAIDs large clinical trial called SMART showed that people receiving intermittent antiretroviral treatment had twice the rate of disease progression compared to those receiving continuous treatment.
Taking antiretroviral treatment daily as directed to achieve and maintain durably undetectable status stops HIV infection from progressing, helping people living with HIV stay healthy and live longer, while offering the benefit of preventing sexual transmission. Stopping and re-starting treatment can cause drug resistance to develop, making that treatment regimen ineffective and limiting future treatment options.
What Does It Mean To Be Durably Undetectable
Taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed to suppress HIV levels leads to an undetectable status. A person is considered to have a durably undetectable viral load if their viral load remains undetectable for at least six months after their first undetectable test result. It is essential to continue to take every pill every day as directed to maintain an undetectable viral load.
A Viral Load Test Will Let You Know If You Are Undetectable
If youre living with HIV and want to know if youre undetectable, the right test for you is Similar to nucleic acid tests to detect HIV infection, HIV viral load tests measure the number of copies of HIV in a milliliter of your blood. Its recommended that people living with HIV getHIV viral load tests generally every 3 to 6 months, in addition toother lab tests that measure your CD4 count and more.
The bottom line is that if youre living with HIV and have an undetectable viral load, you will still test positive for HIV if you get tested. But, this is expected, and doesnt mean that your treatment is not working or that you arent undetectable. As always, check with your HIV care provider if you have questions about what HIV test is right for you, or what types of tests will give you the answers you need to best care for your health.
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Are There Any Side Effects To Being On Hiv Medicines
HIV medicines can cause side effects for some people. Most are manageable. Fortunately, there are numerous HIV medicines available today that people can take without serious side effects. If you do experience any side effects it is important to discuss these with your healthcare provider.
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What About Sexually Transmitted Infections
It is important to remember that while HIV treatment will protect your partners from your HIV, it does not protect them or you from other sexually transmitted infections . For this reason, regular sexual health check-ups are recommended. Using condoms will help prevent STIs.
Another concern is whether having a STI could lead to an increase in viral load. This does happen to people with HIV who are not taking treatment: for instance, syphilis can double your viral load. HIV-negative partners are also more likely to get HIV if they have an STI.
But it is not the case for people taking HIV treatment who have an undetectable viral load. In the PARTNER and Opposites Attract studies, there was not a single HIV transmission even though many people had STIs.
If you maintain good adherence to HIV treatment, catching an STI will not raise your viral load from undetectable to detectable. Effective treatment prevents sexual transmission of HIV even if there are other STIs present.
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No Risk Of Hiv Transmission Really
So is it true that if a HIV positive partner is on treatment and has a UVL sustained , then there is no risk of HIV transmission?
In 2016, the PARTNER study from Europe found that the chance of HIV transmission where one partner had a UVL is negligible. In fact, there were zero partner-transmissions recorded in the study despite approximately 22,000 acts of condomless sex by gay couples. Additionally, PARTNER2 the extension study of PARTNER that aimed to gather data pertaining to mixed-HIV-status gay male couples found that after an additional 54,000 acts of condomless sex there were zero transmissions.
This is also supported by a large international study, led by the Kirby Institute here in Australia, the Opposites Attract study, which focused solely on gay and other men who have sex men from Australia, Brazil and Thailand, confirmed that HIV positive men who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not transmit the virus to their partners.
So, between these two studies there has was a combined total of over 89,000 acts of condomless sex occurred between gay couples with zero transmissions!
What Does ‘treatment As Prevention’ Mean
Treatment as prevention refers to the use of HIV medication to reduce the risk of HIV transmission at a community level. If everyone living with HIV was diagnosed, started treatment immediately and was able to maintain an undetectable viral load, there would be no sexual transmission of HIV. In this way treatment would become a form of prevention.
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Thats Good News For All
Undetectable viral load is game-changing news for both poz and neg guys. If youre HIV poz, undetectable comes with amazing health benefits as well as the assurance that you are keeping the guys you play with safe.
And if youre neg, having sex with a poz guy whos undetectable can give you the confidence that you wont get HIV. UVL puts safety first for everyone.
What Is Effective Treatment
We are using the term effective treatment to mean that someone is on treatment, taking it as prescribed and has an undetectable viral load. In the UK this is usually classed as a viral load below 20 copies/ml.
The Partners PrEP study found that there remains a transmission risk within the first six months of treatment as the HIV positive partners viral load takes time to come down.
Therefore effective treatment means someone has been taking it as prescribed for at least six months and has an undetectable viral load.
Over 95% of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK are on effective treatment and undetectable, and therefore are not infectious .
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What Does Undetectable Equals Untransmittable Mean
U=U is the name of a public health campaign that has really taken off in the last year and is accepted and endorsed by organizations worldwide. It shares the message that people who are undetectable do not transmit HIV to other people.
This campaign promotes key medical information that is important for people living with HIV to know, but it is also an important concept that reduces HIV stigma in the community. The phrase really encompasses an idea that people who are living with HIV can be free from HIV stigma, and can live their lives more fully, with less fear, worry, and inhibition.
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What If I Miss One Dose Will My Viral Load Become Detectable Again
If you are undetectable, and have been taking your medications every day recently, your viral load will very likely stay undetectable even if you miss one dose. The HIV medications are so good these days that it can take a week or even sometimes up to several weeks or more for peoples viral loads to become detectable after medications are stopped.
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Getting Pregnant When A Male Partner Is Hiv
If a male partner is HIV-positive, a procedure called sperm washing can be used to conceive. During this procedure a machine separates sperm cells from the seminal fluid, which can carry the virus. The washed sperm is then used to fertilise the womans egg using a special catheter inserted into the uterus.
If the male partner is on effective treatment and has a stable undetectable viral load, there is no risk of HIV transmission.
In-vitro-fertilisation may also be an option.
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Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Yes. Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. Taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed can make the viral load very lowso low that a test cant detect it .
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only as long as the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine every day as prescribed and visit their healthcare provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.
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What Does This Mean For Me
‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ has been a life-changing finding for many people living with HIV. It means that if you are on effective treatment with an undetectable viral load, you do not have to worry about passing on HIV through sex, even if you do not use a condom.
This has helped many people living with HIV have more fulfilling sex lives and less anxiety around sex.
Knowing that ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ is especially useful for people wishing to have a child. Couples in which one person has undetectable HIV and the other is HIV negative can have unprotected sex in order to conceive.
However, the law on HIV may not have caught up with the science. In some countries, condomless sex without disclosing your HIV status is a criminal offence, regardless of the likelihood of HIV transmission. For information on specific countries, visit our page on criminalisation laws around the world.
After I Begin Hiv Treatment How Long Does It Take For The Risk Of Sexually Transmitting Hiv To Become Effectively Zero
There is effectively no risk of sexual transmission of HIV when the partner living with HIV has achieved an undetectable viral load and then maintained it for at least six months. Most people living with HIV who start taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed achieve an undetectable viral load within one to six months after beginning treatment.
A persons viral load is considered durably undetectable when all viral load test results are undetectable for at least six months after their first undetectable test result. This means that most people will need to be on treatment for 7 to 12 months to have a durably undetectable viral load. It is essential to take every pill every day to maintain durably undetectable status.
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