Tests For Hiv And Aids
Blood tests are the most common way to diagnose the human immunodeficiency virus , the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . These tests look for antibodies to the virus that are present in the blood of infected individuals. People exposed to the virus should get tested immediately.
Early testing is crucial with HIV. If you test positive for the virus, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help fight HIV and ward off complications. Early testing also can alert you to avoid high-risk behavior that could spread the virus to others.
Because it can take from six weeks to six months to develop antibodies to the virus, follow-up tests may be needed. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history and risk factors and perform a physical examination.
The primary tests for diagnosing HIV and AIDs include:
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
What To Say When Someone Says They Have Hiv
If a friend or partner tells you that they have HIV, you might be unsure how to respond. But you dont need to know all of the scientific terminology and latest data on HIV to offer comfort and support. Depending on the specific situation and tone, here are five things that you might consider saying when someone tells you their HIV status.
Who Is At Risk For Hiv Infection
Anyone can get HIV, but certain groups have a higher risk of getting it:
- People who have another sexually transmitted disease . Having an STD can increase your risk of getting or spreading HIV.
- People who inject drugs with shared needles
- Gay and bisexual men, especially those who are Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino American
- People who engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms
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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.
What Are The Types Of Hiv Tests
There are three types of tests used to diagnose HIV infection: antibody tests, antigen/antibody tests, and nucleic acid tests . How soon each test can detect HIV infection differs, because each test has a different window period. The window period is the time between when a person may have been exposed to HIV and when a test can accurately detect HIV infection.
- Antibody tests check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid. HIV antibodies are disease-fighting proteins that the body produces in response to HIV infection. Most rapid tests and home use tests are antibody tests.
- Antigen/antibody tests can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in blood.
- NATs look for HIV in the blood.
A persons initial HIV test will usually be either an antibody test or an antigen/antibody test. NATs are very expensive and not routinely used for HIV screening unless the person had a high-risk exposure or a possible exposure with early symptoms of HIV infection.
When an HIV test is positive, a follow-up test will be conducted. Sometimes people will need to visit a health care provider to take a follow-up test. Other times the follow-up test may be performed in a lab using the same blood sample that was provided for the first test. A positive follow-up test confirms that a person has HIV.
Talk to your health care provider about your HIV risk factors and the best type of HIV test for you.
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If I Am Pregnant And Have Hiv Will My Baby Also Have Hiv
Most women with HIV can protect their baby from becoming infected during pregnancy. Proper pre-natal treatment can reduce the risk that an HIV-positive mother will pass the virus to her child to less than 1 percent. The only way these special treatments can be provided is if the health care professionals know the mother is living with HIV. Treatment is most effective when started early in pregnancy. HIV-positive moms should not breastfeed their babies because HIV is sometimes passed this way.
Where Can I Get Tested For Hiv
Your health care provider can give you an HIV test. HIV testing is also available at many hospitals, medical clinics, substance use programs, and community health centers. Use this CDC testing locator to find an HIV testing location near you.
You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
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Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the bodys natural response to HIV infection.
Flu-like symptoms can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.
Dont assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptomsthey can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.
Heres what to do:
Working With An Employee Who Has Hiv
When you learn that a coworker has HIV, you may be surprised, and unsure of what to do. Although this may be an initial reaction, you should treat all of your coworkers in a respectful and equal manner.
People with HIV want to continue to live and work to the fullest extent possible. If you are unsure of what to do when responding to a coworker who has HIV, the best advice is to maintain professionalism and respect. There are many ways to respond when learning a coworker has HIV:
- Be compassionate. Try to empathize with the difficult circumstances and uncertainties that your coworker is experiencing. Be there to listen and help if needed.
- Be supportive. Be the workplace friend and coworker you have always been. Include your coworker in the same work and social activities as always, whenever possible. Extend your support just as you would to other coworkers.
- Protect the right to privacy and confidentiality. If your coworker tells you that they have HIV, it is illegal for you to tell others without their permission.
- If you hear a rumor that a coworker has HIV, dont repeat it.
- Even if a person has told others that they have HIV, dont tell your other coworkers. Allow your coworker the right to tell others.
- Once a coworker has told you that they have HIV, you may be curious and want to know more. First, ask if they want to talk about it. Dont pressure your coworker with questions. Let your coworker decide how much or how little they want to share.
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Hiv Symptoms Every Woman Needs To Know
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks the bodys infection-fighting immune system. Without treatment, HIV can lead to AIDS . At the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, people who were infected with HIV quickly progressed to serious disease. But todays treatments help lower the amount of virus in the bloodso people who are HIV-positive can live healthier, longer lives and not necessarily progress to AIDS.
More than one million people in the US live with HIV, and scarily, one in seven of them dont know they have it. HIV symptoms can be hard to detect. Within a month or two of HIV entering the body, 40% to 90% of people experience flu-like symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome . But sometimes HIV symptoms don’t appear for yearsor even a decadeafter infection.
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“In the early stages of HIV infection, the most common symptoms are none,” Michael Horberg, MD, director of HIV/AIDS for Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California, tells Health. As many as one in five people in the United States with HIV doesn’t know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control . That’s why it’s so important to get tested, especially if you currently have or have had unprotected sex with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs.
HIV symptoms for women and for men are often the same here are 16 of the most common signs.
How Often Should A Man Get Tested
Sexually active men should get routine tests for HIV.
Men who are sexually active should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of their routine health care.
The CDC recommend that everyone between the ages of should take an HIV test.
The CDC also recommend that people with specific risk factors should take a test at least once a year . This recommendation applies to gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men, and users of injectable drugs.
Besides these formal recommendations, everyone who may have been exposed to HIV or had sex without a condom should also take a test.
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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
- Kaposi sarcoma
How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms Of Hiv
Some people notice flu-like symptoms 1-4 weeks after they’re first infected. They often only last a week or two. This stage is called acute or primary HIV infection.
Then, you may go for 10 years or more without further symptoms. This is called asymptomatic HIV infection. Even though you feel fine, the virus is still active in your body. And you can still give it to someone else.
Once HIV has seriously harmed your immune system, you’re at risk for diseases that a healthy body could fight off. In this stage, symptomatic HIV infection, you start to notice problems caused by those “opportunistic” infections.
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How Should I Know My Hiv+ Partner Cares About Me
If your HIV positive partner cares about you, they will tell you about their HIV status. They will also encourage you to go for a test.
Once you go for a test and you find that you are HIV negative, talk to your physician about PreP and other methods of prevention. But if the test result comes out positive, get treatment as soon as possible and talk to your doctor on what else you can do to stay healthy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv/aids
The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks. This stage is called acute HIV infection.
If the infection is not treated, it becomes chronic HIV infection. Often, there are no symptoms during this stage. If it is not treated, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system. Then the infection will progress to AIDS. This is the late stage of HIV infection. With AIDS, your immune system is badly damaged. You can get more and more severe infections. These are known as opportunistic infections .
Some people may not feel sick during the earlier stages of HIV infection. So the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested.
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Aids Is The Final Stage
Controlling HIV with medications is crucial to both maintaining quality of life and helping prevent progression of the disease. Stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS, develops when HIV has significantly weakened the immune system.
According to the CDC National Prevention Information Network, CD4 levels give one indication that HIV has progressed to its final stage. CD4 levels decreasing below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood is considered a sign of AIDS. A normal range is considered 500 to 1,600 cells/mm3.
AIDS can be diagnosed with a blood test to measure CD4. Sometimes its also determined simply by a persons overall health. In particular, an infection thats rare in people who dont have HIV may indicate AIDS. Symptoms of AIDS include:
- persistent high fevers of over 100°F
AIDS is the final stage of HIV. According to AIDSinfo, it takes at least 10 years without treatment for most people with HIV to develop AIDS.
At that point, the body is susceptible to a wide range of infections and cant effectively fight them off. Medical intervention is necessary to treat AIDS-related illnesses or complications that can otherwise be fatal. Without treatments, the CDC estimates the average survival rate to be three years once AIDS is diagnosed. Depending on the severity of their condition, a persons outlook may be significantly shorter.
Stage : Chronic Hiv Infection
After the acute phase, HIV continues to reproduce at very low levels in the body, and it continues to damage the immune cells. People typically do not experience symptoms or get sick from the virus during this stage.
This stage is also known as asymptomatic HIV infection or clinical latency.
Without medication, the chronic stage of an HIV infection can last for a decade or more. People can still transmit the virus to others during this time.
Antiretroviral therapy slows or stops the progression of HIV. People who take antiretroviral drugs as prescribed may remain in the chronic HIV stage for life and never develop stage 3 HIV.
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How Will I Know If I Get Hiv
The only way you can know that you have the HIV virus is by getting tested. Although you may experience symptoms, there is no way of knowing that you have HIV unless you get tested. In fact, some people who have HIV go for years without experiencing any symptoms. So if you have had unprotected sex and you think that maybe you could be a risk, go get tested even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.
An HIV diagnosis can be done using:
- Antibody screening test
This test is also referred to as the ELISA test and it is used to check for a specific HIV-Ab in the body.
Usually, your doctor will take a small sample of your blood for testing. Some ELISA tests check fluids or urine, but a blood test provides more accurate results. It is possible to get a negative result even when you are actually positive when you take a fluid or urine test. This is because the antibodies in fluids are few.
- Antibody/Antigen combination test
The antibody/antigen combination test can detect the HIV virus 20 days after infection. With the antibody screening test, you would have to wait about 8 weeks to get tested if you want to get accurate results.
This test checks for an HIV antigen called core p24 antigen, which is a protein that is found in the virus. This protein shows up 3 weeks after you become infected. The test also checks for the HIV antibodies much like the antibody screening test.
- RNA Test
- Home Test Kits
Third Stage: Aids Symptoms
AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. This is usually when your CD4 T-cell number drops below 200 and your immune system is badly damaged. You might get an opportunistic infection, an illness that happens more often and is worse in people who have weakened immune systems. Some of these, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia , are also considered âAIDS-defining illnesses.â
If you didn’t know earlier that you were infected with HIV, you may realize it after you have some of these symptoms:
- Being tired all the time
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck or groin
- Fever that lasts more than 10 days
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Herpes Might Not Have Any Symptoms
You or your partner may not have any herpes symptoms that you can see or feel, or the signs of herpes may be so mild you dont even notice them. Sometimes people confuse herpes symptoms with other things, like pimples, ingrown hairs, and the flu.
Herpes symptoms come and go, but that doesnt mean the infection goes away or that you cant spread it to other people. Once you have herpes, it stays in your body for life.
Lack Of Symptoms In Early Stages
ARS is common once a person has HIV. Still, this isnt the case for everyone. Some people have HIV for years before they know they have it. According to HIV.gov, symptoms of HIV may not appear for a decade or longer. This doesnt mean that cases of HIV without symptoms are less serious. Also, a person who doesnt experience symptoms could still transmit HIV to others.
Symptoms in early HIV tend to appear if the rate of cell destruction is high. Not having symptoms can mean that not as many CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell, are killed early on in the disease. Even though a person has no symptoms, they still have the virus. Thats why regular HIV testing is critical to prevent transmission. Its also important to understand the difference between a CD4 count and a viral load.
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