What Is An Hiv Test
An HIV test shows whether you are infected with HIV . HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys cells in the immune system. These cells protect your body against disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses. If you lose too many immune cells, your body will have trouble fighting off infections and other diseases.
There are three main types of HIV tests:
- Antibody Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies in your blood or saliva. Your immune system makes antibodies when you are exposed to bacteria or viruses, like HIV. An HIV antibody test can determine if you have HIV from 312 weeks after infection. That’s because it can take a few weeks or longer for your immune system to make antibodies to HIV. You may be able to do an HIV antibody test in the privacy of your home. Ask your health care provider about at-home HIV test kits.
- HIV Antibody/Antigen Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood. An antigen is a part of a virus that triggers an immune response. If you’ve been exposed to HIV, antigens will show up in your blood before HIV antibodies are made. This test can usually find HIV within 26 weeks of infection. The HIV antibody/antigen test is one of the most common types of HIV tests.
- HIV Viral Load. This test measures the amount of the HIV virus in the blood. It can find HIV faster than antibody and antibody/antigen tests, but it is very expensive. It is mostly used for monitoring HIV infections.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Oral Fluid
Other specimens besides blood and blood products can be used for HIV testing. For linked testing, where must be obtained, oral fluid may be used.
- Does not require a trained laboratory technician for specimen collection and processing, can be collected by a trained health worker
- Does not require contact with possibly contaminated laboratory materials, e.g. used needles or lancets that need biohazard waste facilities for sharps disposal
- Can be collected in a variety of field settings, including non-clinical settings
- Collection of oral fluid may be more acceptable to hard-to-reach populations than specimen collection requiring venepuncture or finger-stick. Therefore, a greater percentage of the target population may agree to be tested.
- May require special collection devices
- Currently available testing technologies used for oral fluid specimens are limited but additional new tests are being validated.
- Cannot be used to perform additional testing for special studies
- Same specimen cannot be used to confirm initial reactivity with a second test therefore, a second specimen must be taken, i.e. whole blood, serum, plasma for further testing
- Should not be used for confidential linked testing
Reliability Of Virological Tests In The Presence Of Arv Exposure
There are theoretical concerns about the use of RNA or p24 Ag virological testing in infants who have been administered or are taking ARV prophylaxis for PMTCT or are breastfeeding where the mother is taking ART. Detection of viral RNA and p24 Ag depend on viral replication and ARVs inhibit this. Administration of more potent ARVs or combinations temporarily suppresses HIV RNA levels to low or undetectable levels . However, there are currently no data available to suggest that existing recommendations need to be revised. HIV RNA testing has been demonstrated to provide equal or improved sensitivity over DNA testing on plasma specimens . For infants on prophylaxis, some uncertainty remains related to reliability in extended infant prophylaxis.
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Who Orders My Blood Tests
Your doctor typically orders blood tests for you during a physical, checkup, or an appointment intended to screen for a specific condition.
Its possible to order your own blood tests without a doctor through laboratories like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, but health insurance may not cover these tests.
While such blood tests may more accessible and convenient, it may be harder to interpret the results without a medical professional.
Some blood testing facilities may also not give you accurate results.
One infamous case of this is Theranos. The California biotechnology firm shut down in 2018 when an investigation uncovered lies and fraud around the accuracy of its private blood-testing technology.
Currently, litigation is underway against the founder and chief executive of the company, Elizabeth Holmes.
Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
Some people use drugs such as ice , GHB, ecstasy , ketamine and cocaine) to enhance their sexual experiences . Chemsex can make you lose your inhibitions and be risky if you:
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
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Why Do I Need An Hiv Test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. You may also need an HIV test if you are at higher risk for infection. HIV is mainly spread through sexual contact and blood, so you may be at a higher risk for HIV if you:
- Are a man that has had sex with another man
- Have had sex with an HIV-infected partner
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have injected drugs, such as heroin, or shared drug needles with someone else
HIV can spread from mother to child during birth and through breast milk, so if you are pregnant your doctor may order an HIV test. There are medicines you can take during pregnancy and delivery to greatly reduce your risk of spreading the disease to your baby.
Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
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What Does The Test Involve
HIV testing within VA is voluntary and confidential. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be tested. Before deciding, you may request educational material on HIV and HIV testing. VA also encourages you to ask your provider any questions you may have.
If you give your consent to be tested, an HIV test will be done with a sample of blood or with fluid from inside your mouth. For the blood test, blood is drawn either from an arm or from a finger with a needlestick. For the oral-fluid test, a swab is used to brush the inside of your mouth. The type of test you can get depends on what is offered by your VA facility.
Traditional blood test results are available in a few days. Some facilities offer rapid tests that provide preliminary results in around 20 minutes. However, it is important to know that all patients who have positive results on the first test must be retested with a second test. If your test is performed on blood from a vein and the first result is positive , a second test will be done automatically to confirm the results. If your test is done using oral fluid or blood from a finger prick, and the result is positive , blood must be taken from a vein for a second test to confirm the results. An HIV result is considered truly positive only if two different tests are positive.
Timing Of Serological Testing In Infants
The most recent advances in EIA technology have produced combination assays, which allow for the simultaneous detection of p24 HIV antigen and HIV antibodies. This approach has further shortened the window period, i.e. the interval between HIV infection and detectable HIV antigen/antibodies. Rapid tests appear to offer similar performance characteristics but they detect antibody 28 days later than third-generation EIAs.
All children born to HIV-infected mothers carry detectable maternal HIV antibody and this declines slowly over the first year of life. The rate of decay of maternal antibody has been ascertained largely by analysis of studies to detect HIV antibody in children who have not been breastfed. The mean and/or median age at the time of seroreversion ranges between 9 and 16 months of age in studies from both developed and developing countries . These data indicate that maternal antibody may remain detectable through the first 6 months of life but significant decay occurs by 912 months of age. Most HIV-uninfected children do not have detectable antibody at 12 months of age .
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Blood Chemistry Tests/basic Metabolic Panel
The basic metabolic panel is a group of tests that measures different chemicals in the blood. These tests usually are done on the fluid part of blood. The tests can give doctors information about your muscles , bones, and organs, such as the kidneys and liver.
The BMP includes blood glucose, calcium, and electrolyte tests, as well as blood tests that measure kidney function. Some of these tests require you to fast before the test, and others don’t. Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for the test you’re having.
Glucose is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy. Abnormal glucose levels in your blood may be a sign of diabetes.
For some blood glucose tests, you have to fast before your blood is drawn. Other blood glucose tests are done after a meal or at any time with no preparation.
Calcium is an important mineral in the body. Abnormal calcium levels in the blood may be a sign of kidney problems, bone disease, thyroid disease, cancer, malnutrition, or another disorder.
Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid levels and acid-base balance in the body. They include sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and chloride.
Abnormal electrolyte levels may be a sign of dehydration, kidney disease, liver disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, or other disorders.
What To Expect During Blood Tests
Blood usually is drawn from a vein in your arm or other part of your body using a needle. It also can be drawn using a finger prick.
The person who draws your blood might tie a band around the upper part of your arm or ask you to make a fist. Doing this can make the veins in your arm stick out more, which makes it easier to insert the needle.
The needle that goes into your vein is attached to a small test tube. The person who draws your blood removes the tube when it’s full, and the tube seals on its own. The needle is then removed from your vein. If you’re getting a few blood tests, more than one test tube may be attached to the needle before it’s withdrawn.
Some people get nervous about blood tests because they’re afraid of needles. Others may not want to see blood leaving their bodies.
If you’re nervous or scared, it can help to look away or talk to someone to distract yourself. You might feel a slight sting when the needle goes in or comes out.
Drawing blood usually takes less than 3 minutes.
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Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
What Is Acute Hiv Infection
There are three stages of HIV infection:
- Stage 1:Acute HIVinfection
- Stage 2:Chronic HIV infection
- Stage 3:AIDS
Acute HIV infection is the first stage of the infection. Usually within two to four weeks of infection, two-thirds of those with HIV will experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms may last for several days or even weeks. However, some people may experience no symptoms at all.
In this stage, there is a large amount of HIV in your blood, which is known as the viral load. Studies have noted incredibly high viral loads during the acute stage, meaning you are more contagious at this time.
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How Long Does Seroconversion Take
The timeframe between when a person contracts HIV and when tests can detect the infection is known as the window period. Everyones immune system is different. This makes it difficult to predict how long this stage will last.
Scientists have developed sensitive blood tests since the early days of the HIV epidemic. Its now possible to detect HIV antibodies, as well as other components of HIV, earlier than ever before. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, most people test positive within a few weeks of contracting HIV. For others, it may take
During the window period, a person may develop symptoms similar to the flu or other common viruses that include:
- swollen lymph nodes
Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. And they may range from mild to severe. But its possible to pass through the early infection stage without experiencing any symptoms at all. During this time, a person may not even realize that theyve contracted HIV.
How To Tell If Symptoms Are Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests:
- An NAT involves drawing blood from a vein. It can tell if you have HIV or how much virus is present in your blood. While an NAT can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests, this test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure, or a possible exposure and have early symptoms of HIV infection. This test takes several days for results to come back.
- An antigen/antibody test is recommended for testing done in labs and is now common in the United States. It involves drawing blood from a vein, and results take several days to come back. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick and takes 30 minutes or less to get results.
- HIV antibody tests only look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid. Antibody tests can detect an HIV infection 23 to 90 days after exposure. Most rapid tests and the only currently approved HIV self-test are antibody tests. They take 20 minutes or less to provide results.
Keep in mind, any positive result would necessitate a second test to confirm it. The only test that would not require a second confirmatory test is the NAT.
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Where Can I Get An Hiv Test
Depending on where you are in the world, there are a number of places that you can get tested for HIV. The best first step is to search online for “HIV testing, plus your location. This will generally give you a good idea of where to go, or at least give you a starting point.
If you have limited internet access, its always worth asking local sexual health charities or health professionals what is available in your area. They should be able to direct you to somewhere where you can test for free. The image below has some examples of the types of places that might offer HIV testing.
Diagnosing Hiv Infection & Aids
Doctors at NYU Langone diagnose human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV, a chronic viral infection that destroys certain infection-fighting white blood cells. If left untreated, HIV weakens the immune system, so the body is unable to fight infections and disease. When this occurs, HIV infection leads to a chronic, possibly life-threatening illness called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS.
HIV is transmitted through sex by sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment through contact with infected blood or through pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
A few weeks to three months after becoming infected with HIV, many people develop intense flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. They may also experience weight loss and night sweats during this initial phase. However, many people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms for 10 years or longer.
After the initial phase of an HIV infection, the disease moves into a period called clinical latency. This means the virus is developing but is producing few if any mild symptoms. Even when it causes no symptoms, the virus can be transmitted to others.
As HIV multiplies and destroys certain white blood cellsthe CD4 cells, which fight bacteria and virusesa person may develop symptoms of infection. These might include recurring fever, intense night sweats, and prolonged swelling of lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck. Sores in the mouth, anus, or genitals may also occur.
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