When Should I Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you could have HIV, talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about having a test. Not all people who have HIV will experience a seroconversion illness, so testing is important if you think you might be at risk. Some people at high risk need to be tested regularly.
You should get tested for HIV if:
- you have had unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown or who has HIV but does not have a measurable amount of virus in their blood
- you have had unprotected sex with a person from a country that has high rates of HIV infection
- your sexual partner has recently travelled to a country that has high rates of HIV infection and may have had unprotected sex there
- you have had unprotected sex with a sex worker in Africa, Eastern Europe, South East Asia or Papua New Guinea
- you have ever shared injecting equipment
Early diagnosis is important and can improve the long-term course of the illness.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about other STIs at the same time.
Your information will be kept confidential unless there are major concerns for your safety or the safety of others. HIV is a notifiable disease, which means laboratory staff need to inform the government about new cases, but this information is also confidential.
How Is Hiv Transmitted
HIV is transmitted from an infected person by body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids or other blood-containing secretions. Transmission occurs when these fluids come in contact with the various mucous membranes of the body, through cuts/openings of the skin, or directly injected into the bloodstream. As a result, anyone who is occupationally exposed to these body fluids risks contracting the disease. Preventive measures include wearing protective clothing, gowns, gloves, masks and goggles to control the spread of HIV among workers who may be at risk.
Unprotected sexual intercourse with infected people poses the single most important risk of infection. HIV can also be passed from one partner into the bloodstream of the other through tiny cuts or scratches.
Intravenous drug abusers may contract HIV if they share needles with infected people. Hemophiliacs requiring frequent transfusions or blood products are at risk due to the possibility of receiving contaminated blood. Since 1985, Canada’s Red Cross has been screening all blood donations for HIV antibodies.
If an individual is struck with a HIV-contaminated needle or sharp object can also pose an opportunity for transmission. Health care workers are at high risk for this type of exposure.
How Does Hiv Affect The Body
The human immune system involves many types of cells which guard against germs responsible for most diseases. The immune system’s most important guard cells are B-cells and T-cells, which are special white blood cells. B-cells and T-cells cooperate to fight any germ that attacks the human body.
B-cells produce particular proteins, called antibodies, that try to neutralize the invading germ. After a person recovers from an infection, these antibodies continue to circulate in the bloodstream, acting as part of the immune system’s “memory.” Immune system memory explains why a person rarely suffers a second attack from an infectious disease such as measles. If the same germ is encountered again, the antibodies will recognize and neutralize it. T-cells attack the germ directly and try to kill it.
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Treatment Helps Prevent Transmission To Others
- If you have an undetectable viral load, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- Having an undetectable viral load may also help prevent transmission from injection drug use. We dont have data about whether having an undetectable viral load prevents transmission through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment . It very likely reduces the risk, but we dont know by how much.
- Having an undetectable viral load also helps prevent transmission from mother to baby. If a mother with HIV takes HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery and gives HIV medicine to her baby for 4 to 6 weeks after birth, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be 1% or less.
- Having an undetectable viral load reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby through breastfeeding, but doesnt eliminate the risk. The current recommendation in the United States is that mothers with HIV should not breastfeed their babies.
How To Prevent Hiv From Advancing To Aids
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV. The best way to avoid AIDS is to start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. Taken every day as prescribed, these drugs will keep you healthy and make your viral level so low, it canât be detected. Sticking to the right treatment can keep AIDS at bay for years and decades. It also practically eliminates the chances that youâll pass HIV to your sexual partners and others. Many HIV-positive people live normal life spans.
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What Conditions Are Considered To Be Opportunistic
Some of the most common of these OIs/cancers among HIV-positive people include:
Cancer: The types of cancers that are you are more likely to get if you have AIDs include lymphoma, Kaposis sarcoma, invasive cervical cancer, anal cancer, liver cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat and lungs.
Candidiasis : This condition is caused by Candida fungus. It can happen in the skin, nails and mucous membranes throughout the body, such as the mouth or the vagina. The cases can be troublesome, but thrush is especially dangerous when it affects the esophagus or parts of the respiratory system .
Pneumonia: This respiratory condition is most commonly caused by _Pneumocystis jirovecii and the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae._
Salmonella: This infection is spread through contaminated food and water. It causes diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Toxoplasmosis: This disease is caused by a parasites that live in cats and rodents and other warm-blooded animals. The infection is spread through the feces. Toxoplasmosis can cause severe problems in the lungs, heart, brain and other organs. If you have a cat, wear gloves to change the litter and be thorough in washing your hands.
What Is Involved In The Consistent And Correct Use Of Hiv Treatment To Maintain An Undetectable Viral Load For Hiv Prevention
The consistent and correct use of HIV treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load includes:
- high adherence to medications, to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load
- regular medical appointments to monitor viral load and receive adherence support, if needed
Regular testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections is also important because HIV treatment does not protect against STIs.
A person on HIV treatment needs to work with their doctor to determine an appropriate schedule for medical checkups and viral load monitoring.
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How Do People Get Hiv
HIV spreads when infected blood or body fluids enter the body. This can happen:
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV is NOT spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
What Next For Cure Research
Through HIV cure research, much has been learnt about the virus and the ability of the human immune system to naturally or synthetically defend itself. Despite these learnings, researchers agree that a cure, functional or otherwise, will probably occur as a result of a combination of approaches rather than one isolated treatment.46
There has also been a developing interest in fostering collaborations with oncologists, to merge HIV cure and cancer disciplines, to create new ways of advancing sustained remission in people living with HIV.
The parallels between HIV persistence and cancer are striking. In both cases, the immune response is unable to target and clear HIV-infected cells and tumour cells. Both fields also face similar challenges in quantifying the size and distribution of those cells, which can reside in tissues that are difficult to access.
– Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussian47
Cure strategists from all strands of research are also focused on the need for more human trials in order to investigate the full potential of treatments. So far, the few human trials that exist have focused largely on Caucasian middle-aged and older men in resource-rich regions, suggesting that there is still much to be learned about viral activity in people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, and other vulnerable populations.48
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How Can Hiv Be Prevented And Treated In Drug
Cumulative research has shown that drug addiction treatment, community-based outreach, testing, and linkage to care for HIV and other infections are the most effective ways to reduce HIV transmission among drug-abusing individuals. Combined pharmacological and behavioral treatments for drug abuse have a demonstrated impact on HIV risk behaviors and incidence of HIV infection.33 For example, recent research showed that when behavioral therapies were combined with methadone treatment, approximately one-half of study participants who reported injection drug use at the outset of the study reported no such use at the end of the study, and over 90 percent of all participants reported no needle sharing.34 Drug treatment programs also serve an important role in providing current information on HIV and related diseases, counseling and testing services, and referrals for medical and social services.
Can Hiv Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent HIV is to not have sex with a person who has HIV, or share a needle with a person who has HIV. However, there is also a medicine called PrEP that people can take before coming into contact with HIV that can prevent them from getting an HIV infection.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is for people who are at long-term risk of getting HIV either through sexual activity or by injecting drugs. If youre taking PrEP and come into contact with HIV, the medicine makes it difficult for HIV to develop inside your body.
Other ways to prevent HIV include:
- When you have sex, practice safer sex by using a condom. The best condom is a male latex condom. A female condom is not as effective but does offer some protection.
- Do not share needles and syringes.
- Never let someone elses blood, semen, urine, vaginal fluid, or feces get into your anus, vagina, or mouth.
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Testing Positive For Hiv
If you test positive, your doctor will complete a medical history and physical examination.
He or she may order several lab tests to check your overall health, including:
- A complete blood count , to identify the numbers and types of cells in your blood.
- A chemistry screen, to measure the blood levels of certain substances and to see how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other tests may be done to check for current or past infections that may become worse because of HIV. You may be tested for:
Spread To The Western Hemisphere
Further isolated occurrences of this infection may have been emerging as early as 1966. The virus eventually entered gay male communities in large United States cities, where a combination of casual, multi-partner sexual activity and relatively high transmission rates associated with anal intercourse allowed it to spread explosively enough to finally be noticed.
Because of the long incubation period of HIV before symptoms of AIDS appear, and because of the initially low incidence, HIV was not noticed at first. By the time the first reported cases of AIDS were found in large United States cities, the prevalence of HIV infection in some communities had passed 5%. Worldwide, HIV infection has spread from urban to rural areas, and has appeared in regions such as China and India.
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Hiv And Aids Diagnosis
HIV tests check your blood or fluid from your mouth for antibodies that your body makes in response to the virus. You can take them at a doctorâs office, a community health center, a hospital, or at home.
When you have HIV, your doctor will keep an eye on how much of the virus is in your system. You might hear them call it your âviral load.â Two things will tell them if your infection has become AIDS:
- Your CD4 count. A person with a healthy immune system has 500 to 1,600 CD4 cells in a cubic millimeter of their blood. A person with AIDS has fewer than 200. This number is called your âCD4 count.â
- AIDS-defining infections. These are also called opportunistic infections. These generally happen in people who have a CD4 count below 200. Viruses, bacteria, or fungi that donât usually make healthy people sick can cause these infections in someone with HIV or AIDS.
How long it takes HIV to become AIDS is different for everyone. If you donât get treatment, it might take 10 to 15 years. With treatment, you may never have AIDS.
How Do You Get Hiv
HIV is carried in semen , vaginal fluids, anal mucus, blood, and breast milk. The virus gets in your body through cuts or sores in your skin, and through mucous membranes . You can get HIV from:
having vaginal or anal sex
sharing needles or syringes for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has HIV-infected blood on it
getting HIV-infected blood, semen , or vaginal fluids into open cuts or sores on your body
HIV is usually spread through having unprotected sex. Using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex and not sharing needles can help protect you and your partners from HIV. If you do have HIV, treatment can lower or even stop the chances of spreading the virus to other people during sex. If you dont have HIV, theres also a daily medicine called PrEP that can protect you from HIV.
HIV can also be passed to babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. A pregnant woman with HIV can take medicine to greatly reduce the chance that her baby will get HIV.
HIV isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get HIV from kissing, sharing food or drinks, or using the same fork or spoon. HIV is also not spread through hugging, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. And you cant get HIV from a toilet seat.
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Hiv Symptoms In Men: Is There A Difference
Symptoms of HIV vary from person to person, but theyre similar in men and women. These symptoms can come and go or get progressively worse.
If a person has been exposed to HIV, they may also have been exposed to other sexually transmitted infections . These include:
While not related to HIV symptoms, another risk for women with HIV is that the virus can be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy. However, antiretroviral therapy is considered safe during pregnancy.
Women who are treated with antiretroviral therapy are at very low risk for transmitting HIV to their baby during pregnancy and delivery. Breastfeeding is also affected in women with HIV. The virus can be transferred to a baby through breast milk.
In the United States and other settings where formula is accessible and safe, its recommended that women with HIV not breastfeed their babies. For these women, use of formula is encouraged.
Options besides formula include pasteurized banked human milk.
For women who may have been exposed to HIV, its important to know what symptoms to look for.
AIDS refers to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. With this condition, the immune system is weakened due to HIV thats typically gone untreated for many years.
If HIV is found and treated early with antiretroviral therapy, a person will usually not develop AIDS.
Symptoms of AIDS can include:
Are Hiv And Aids The Same
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If someone has HIV, it means that they have been diagnosed with the HIV infection. AIDS however, is the most advanced or final stage of the HIV infection and is characterized by:
- A damaged immune system with low CD4 cells counts in the blood.
- High HIV load in the blood.
- Opportunistic infections: These are infections that occur more frequently or are more severe in people with weakened immune systems than in people with healthy immune systems.
- In the absence of treatment, people with AIDS rarely survive beyond three years.
The symptoms of AIDS are:
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How Well Does The Use Of Hiv Treatment To Maintain An Undetectable Viral Load Prevent Hiv Transmission Through Injection Drug Use
The limited available research suggests that being on HIV treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load is effective at helping to prevent HIV transmission among people who inject drugs however, people who use drugs can get HIV through sex and through sharing drug use equipment. While we know that maintaining an undetectable viral load will prevent HIV transmission through sex, we dont know how much it reduces the chance of passing HIV through shared drug use equipment. The best way to prevent passing HIV through drug use is to use new needles and other equipment every time. People who use drugs need access to enough new equipment to be able to do this consistently and to avoid having to share with others.
The three major studies looking at sexual HIV transmission did not systematically recruit people who inject drugs, they did not ask whether participants were sharing injection equipment and they did not provide any analysis related to participants who reported using drugs.
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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