How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. An undetectable viral load is a level of HIV in the blood so low that it cant be detected in a standard lab test.
- If you test negative, you have more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before, like pre-exposure prophylaxis , medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use, and post-exposure prophylaxis , HIV medicine taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure to prevent the virus from taking hold.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout your pregnancy and childbirth and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be less than 1%. HIV medicine will protect your own health as well.
To 14 Days After Exposure
Known as acute retroviral syndrome, or ARS, the acute stage occurs immediately after being infected, when the immune system has yet to control the virus. During this time, an estimated 40 percent to 90 percent of people will experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, whereas the rest wont experience any symptoms at all.
Although these signs typically appear within 7 to 14 days of exposure, they can also crop up as early as 3 days. Around 30 percent of people with ARS will develop a maculopapular rash of pink to red bumps, usually on the upper half of the body. The rash will sometimes gradually converge into larger, raised hives.
Other common ARS symptoms include:
Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a latex condom every time they have sex
- get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too
- reduce their number of sexual partners
- get tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of getting infected with HIV. To find a testing site, visit the CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources.
- consider taking a medicine every day if they are at very high risk of getting infected
- Do not inject drugs or share any kind of needle.
- Do not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood.
- Do not touch anyone else’s blood from a cut or sore.
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What Is Human Immunodeficiency Virus
HIV is a blood-borne virus, a member of the Retroviridae family that can be transmitted by sexual intercourse, intravenous drug materials contaminated by the virus, mother-to-child during birth or breastfeeding and cause immunodeficiency in the person infected. Diagnosis is done by having a positive lab test for HIV. There is no cure for HIV but antiretroviral treatment can control the virus so patients can live long and healthy lives.
Progressing To Stage 3 Hiv
If a person with HIV does not receive treatment, the condition may eventually progress to stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS. Thanks to modern medical advances, current HIV infections rarely reach stage 3 in the U.S.
Stage 3 HIV is not a specific disease but a syndrome with a wide range of identifiable symptoms. The symptoms can also stem from other illnesses because opportunistic infections take advantage of the bodys reduced immune activity.
Treatment will depend on the individual and their complications. The persons healthcare team will help them make a suitable plan.
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Remind Me: What Is Hiv
HIV short for human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that affects the immune system more specifically, white blood cells known as CD4 cells, or T-cells, that are part of the immune system.
Because HIV attacks the immune system itself, the immune system is not able to mount a defensive response against this virus the way it can for other viruses. It also means that a person with HIV is more susceptible to other infections, illnesses, and diseases.
HIV vs. AIDS
HIV is not synonymous with AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , also known as stage 3 HIV. Its a late stage of HIV when the immune system cells have been so badly damaged that the body is no longer able to fight off infection.
Thanks to modern medicine, with proper treatment, its incredibly uncommon for HIV to progress to AIDS. .
Before we do a more in-depth discussion about the symptoms of HIV, its important to understand that left untreated HIV can progress through the following three stages, each of which has a group of associated symptoms.
- Stage 1: acute illness
Below, a complete breakdown of the most common symptoms by stage.
Symptoms Of Hiv In Men
HIV symptoms will vary from case to case, but the following are the most common patterns HIV infections follow.
Upon infection, it may take individuals with HIV 2-4 weeks to exhibit symptoms. Often these symptoms are mistaken for a common cold or flu, rather than HIV. Approximately 80 percent of individuals with an acute HIV infection will experience flu-like symptoms. That being said, sometimes it can take years for symptoms to appear. This is why it is so important for you and your partner to always get tested for HIV before beginning a new sexual relationship. Getting tested for HIV helps individuals seek needed treatment sooner and helps to stop the spread of the virus to others.
There are varying symptoms of HIV in men depending upon the stage of the disease they are in: Acute HIV stage asymptomatic stage and the latest, advanced stage known as AIDS.
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How Is Hiv Diagnosed
An HIV antibody test, either from a blood sample or an oral sample , can tell whether you have been infected. A negative test result means no HIV antibodies were found. This usually means you are not infected. However, if you engaged in behavior that could spread the virus within three months of having the test, antibodies may not be detectable and you should be re-tested. A positive test result means antibodies to HIV were found. This means you are infected with the virus and can pass HIV to others even if you have no symptoms. You are infected for life. Even if you think you have a low risk for HIV infection, consider getting tested whenever you have a regular medical check-up.
Symptoms Of The Early Stages Of Hiv
Symptoms of HIV can vary between individuals however the first signs of infection generally appear within the first 1-2 months. Many, but not all, people will experience severe flu-like symptoms which is your bodys natural response to the virus. This is called the seroconversion period.
Its during this time that its crucial to identify if HIV is the cause, as your viral load is very high which greatly increases the risk of passing it on. And the only way to know for sure is by getting tested.
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Advanced Stage Of Hiv Symptoms Aids
Without treatment, it may take a matter of months or years for HIV to weaken the immune system beyond repair. This progression of HIV is referred to as AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This last stage of infection means that the bodys immune system is severely damaged, leaving it more susceptible to other infections that it would otherwise be able to fight off if it were not compromised and damaged. It is not uncommon for individuals with AIDS to frequently get colds, flus or fungal infections.
Symptoms men with AIDS may experience include:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Sores or ulcers in the mouth
- Sores or ulcers on the genitals
- Recurring fever
- Persistent or prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
- Memory loss, confusion or neurological disorders
Prevention is possible by wearing condoms correctly. The latex of the condom prevents the HIV virus from passing through. Oil-based lubes can weaken condoms, but using water-based lubes is perfectly okay.
Many People Have No Symptoms But Watch For These
Unexplained rash, swollen lymph nodes, oral thrush, night sweats, and sudden and unexplained weight loss are all possible signs of HIV. Having a sexually transmitted infection isn’t a physical sign of HIV, but it does indicate a greater risk of having HIV as well.
The signs or symptoms of human immunodeficiency virus are not always obvious, though. And in fact, most people who have HIV do not exhibit any of them. Signs of HIV can also depend on whether a person is in the new or persistent stage of infection.
Only an HIV test can tell you for sure if you have the virus. Still, it is important to know about these six common signs and symptoms of HIV, especially if you are someone who is considered to be at higher risk for infection. This article explains each of them.
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U.S. National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health
A rash is often the first sign of HIV, but it only appears in 2 of every 5 newly infected people.
An HIV rash looks a certain way: large areas of flat, reddened skin peppered with tiny bumps.
The rash can be itchy or painful. Once a person gets the rash, flu-like symptoms are also common.
The HIV rash usually starts two to six weeks after exposure to the virus and will go away within one to two weeks. The rash is widespread and mainly affects the trunk and face, but can also be on the arms, legs, hands, and feet.
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How Is Hiv Treated
HIV is treated with a combination of medicines taken by mouth every day. This combination of pills is called antiretroviral therapy .
Taking a combination of types of pills, rather than just one, is the most effective way to keep HIV from multiplying and destroying your cells. There are also combination pills that have several medications in a single pill. Your healthcare provider will carefully select a combination specifically for you.
The goal of ART is to reduce HIV in the blood to an amount thats not detectable by an HIV test and to slow HIVs weakening of your immune system.
Medications used to treat HIV
Each type of pill used in ART has a different way of keeping HIV from making more copies of itself or from infecting your cells. There can be many different brand names of the same type of ART drug.
Types of ART medications include:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors .
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors .
- Protease inhibitors .
- Combination of HIV medicines.
Is It Safe For Children With Hiv To Receive Routine Immunizations
MMR, or measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, is safe to give to children with HIV, unless they have a severely weakened immune system.
DTaP/Td vaccine is safe to give to infants and children with HIV.
Hib and Hep B vaccines are safe to give to children with HIV.
Hepatitis A and B vaccines are safe to give to HIV-positive children.
VZIG should be considered for known HIV-positive children, depending on their immune status.
A yearly influenza vaccine is recommended for children with HIV, as well as any individual living in the same household as a child with HIV. There are two types of influenza vaccine children and adults with HIV should receive the “shot” form of the vaccine–not the nasal spray form, as it contains a live virus. Pneumococcal vaccine can be safely administered to age-appropriate HIV-infected children.
Always consult with your child’s doctor regarding immunizations for an HIV-infected child.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hiv And Aids
When first infected with HIV, a person may have:
- increased number of infections
- infections that are more severe than is typical
Without treatment, HIV can lead to a very weakened immune system and progress to AIDS. Illnesses that happen in AIDS are called “AIDS-defining conditions.”
AIDS-defining conditions include:
- very fast and severe weight loss
- a lung infection called pneumocystis pneumonia
How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
Health care providers prescribe a combination of different medicines for people with HIV and AIDS. They must be taken exactly as prescribed or they won’t work. These medicines:
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- reduce the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check the number of CD4 cells in the body and the viral load.
If an HIV-positive person’s CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
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People Of All Genders And Sexual Orientations Can Contract Hiv
HIV is a human disease, meaning anyone can contract it, says Rymland.
Unfortunately, due to the virus early nomenclature as GRID, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency, its wrongly assumed to affect only gay men.
Sadly, says Rymland, this pervasive stigma prevents non-gay men, as well as other-gendered individuals, from protecting themselves against HIV transmission or even getting tested for STIs.
People of all sexual orientations need to be educated about their risk and informed on how to protect themselves, she says. And that includes being educated about PrEP, a safe and effective medication for preventing HIV thats not well known outside of the gay community.
How common is HIV in men?
Globally, men make up about 47 percent of cases. However, research published in 2018 found that men in the United States made up
HIV is typically diagnosed with a blood test. Though, it can also be diagnosed with oral fluid or urine.
Most commonly, healthcare professionals will order one of the following tests:
- nucleic acid test : looks for viral load in blood
- antigen/antibody test: looks for both antibodies and antigens in blood
- antibody test: looks for antibodies in the blood
It typically takes a few days for NAT and antigen/antibody tests to provide results. But there are rapid antibody screening tests and rapid antigen/antibody tests that take 30 minutes or less.
What Is An Hiv Test
A confidential HIV test can be performed by your doctor. There are three types of tests that look at your bodily fluids to check for signs of HIV: nucleic acid tests , antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
- NAT tests require drawing your blood to look for both the presence of HIV and how much of the virus is present, known as your viral load. The benefit of a NAT test is that it can detect HIV earlier than other types of tests. The downside is that these tests are very expensive. Typically, we use this test if youre exhibiting HIV infection symptoms or if youve had a high risk of exposure to the virus.
- Antigen/Antibody tests also draw blood, although there is a rapid test that requires a finger stick. This type of testing searches for antibodies that are produced in the blood by your immune system to fight the HIV invading cells. If HIV is in your body, you will produce an antigen called p24. The test looks for p24 as well as the antibodies that signal your body is fighting the infection.
- HIV Antibody tests just look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluids. These tests also require blood to be drawn from a vein.
The time for receiving test results spans several days to less than a few hours. Talk with your doctor about what type of test is right for you.
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What Else Should I Know
Treatment has improved greatly for people with HIV. By taking medicines and getting regular medical care, HIV-positive people can live long and healthy lives.
People with HIV need a medical care team for the best treatment and support.
If you or someone you know has HIV or AIDS it is important to:
- goes to all doctor visits
- takes all medicines exactly as directed
- goes for all follow-up blood tests
- understands what HIV/AIDS is and how it spreads
- is physically active, gets enough sleep, and eats well
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When Is Hiv Contagious
During the clinical latency stage, a person with HIV experiences fewer symptoms. However, they can still transmit the virus to others.
According to the CDC, a person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to another individual. This is because HIV treatment suppresses the virus, leaving a low presence of the virus in the blood.
When HIV is not detectable in a test, it is not transmissible.
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