Who Should Get Tested For Hiv
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 13 to 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. As a general rule, people at higher risk for HIV should get tested each year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from getting tested more often, such as every 3 to 6 months.
Factors that increase the risk of HIV include:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who is HIV positive or whose HIV status you dont know
- Injecting drugs and sharing needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with others
- Exchanging sex for money or drugs
- Having hepatitis or tuberculosis
- Having sex with anyone who has any of the HIV risk factors listed above
Talk to your health care provider about your risk for HIV and how often you should get tested for HIV.
Taking Hiv Medication To Stay Healthy And Prevent Transmission
If you have HIV, it is important to start treatment with HIV medication as soon as possible after your diagnosis.
If taken every day, exactly as prescribed, HIV medication can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood to a very low level. This is called viral suppression. It is called viral suppression because HIV medication prevents the virus from growing in your body and keeps the virus very low or suppressed. Viral suppression helps keep you healthy and prevents illness.
If your viral load is so low that it doesnt show up in a standard lab test, this is called having an undetectable viral load. People living with HIV can get and keep an undetectable viral load by taking HIV medication every day, exactly as prescribed. Almost everyone who takes HIV medication daily as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 6 months after starting treatment.
There are important health benefits to getting the viral load as low as possible. People living with HIV who know their status, take HIV medication daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives.
There is also a major prevention benefit. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
Other Ways To Prevent Transmission
The best way to avoid contracting HIV is to make sure your partner maintains an undetectable viral load. Still, there are other steps you can also take, including:
- Using condoms the right way, every time.
- Participating in safe sexual activities, like oral sex.
- Avoiding the sharing of needles .
- Limiting the number of sexual partners you have.
- Encouraging frequent testing of your partners, and even doing it together.
Not everyone feels the need to practice all of these safe-steps all the time, however. Its a matter of choice, and what you feel comfortable with in terms of risk, explains Urbina. He notes that some people who are HIV negative still want to use condoms and take PrEP regularly, even if their partner has an undetectable viral load. Some people want the seatbelt, the parachute, and the airbags, he says.
Above all, its important to know that you can have a happy, healthy relationship with someone who is HIV positive while remaining HIV-free.
The science really does support that if you take your meds and if your viral load is undetectable, sexual transmission does not occur, says Urbina. That opens the possibility for more enjoyment of sex, more fulfilling sex. It opens up the possibility of having children. And all of these possibilities are present without fear and anxiety.
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First Stage: Acute Hiv Infection Symptoms
Most people don’t know right away when they’ve been infected with HIV. But they may have symptoms within 2 to 6 weeks after theyâve gotten the virus. This is when your body’s immune system puts up a fight. It’s called acute retroviral syndrome or primary HIV infection.
- Ulcers in your mouth, esophagus, anus, or genitals
- Headache and other neurological symptoms
If you have symptoms like these and might have come into contact with someone with HIV in the past 2 to 6 weeks, go to a doctor and ask that you get an HIV test. If you donât have symptoms but still think you might have come into contact with the virus, get tested.
Early testing is important for two reasons. First, at this stage, levels of HIV in your blood and bodily fluids are very high. This makes it especially contagious. Second, starting treatment as soon as possible might help boost your immune system and ease your symptoms.
A combination of medications can help fight HIV, keep your immune system healthy, and keep you from spreading the virus. If you take these medications and have healthy habits, your HIV infection probably wonât get worse.
So Your Partner Is Hiv Positive: Now What
Thanks to todays knowledge and treatments, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Historically, theres been a lot of fear surrounding human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. However, since the virus was first reported in the United States in the 1980s, experts have learned a lot about HIV including how to prevent transmission.
Even though finding out that your partner is HIV positive can be scary, knowledge is power. Its super important to know the status of your partner, says Antonio Urbina, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Once you learn their status, a doctor can start your partner on antiviral drugs to suppress their viral load and give you medication that will lower your odds of becoming infected with the virus.
There are a variety of treatments that both you and your partner can take to help prevent HIV transmission, including:
PrEP Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily medication that helps prevent HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the virus. If you do come into contact with HIV, PrEP can prevent the virus from taking hold and spreading. PrEP is a highly effective, near-perfect way of averting HIV, says Dr. Urbina. However, its important to take PrEP every day for the medication to work as effectively as possible.
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Second Stage: Clinical Latency Symptoms
After your immune system loses the battle with HIV, the flu-like symptoms will go away. But thereâs a lot going on inside your body. Doctors call this the asymptomatic period or chronic HIV infection.
In your body, cells called CD4 T cells coordinate your immune systemâs response. During this stage, untreated HIV will kill CD4 cells and destroy your immune system. Your doctor can check how many of these cells you have with blood tests. Without treatment, the number of CD4 cells will drop, and youâll be more likely to get other infections.
Most people don’t have symptoms they can see or feel. You may not realize that you’re infected and can pass HIV on to others.
If youâre taking ART, you might stay in this phase for decades. You can pass the virus on to other people, but itâs extremely rare if you take your medicines.
What Happens After An Hiv Test And Getting The Results
- If your result is negative, you can stop worrying but its good to keep testing regularly.
- If your result is positive or , you will need to give a blood sample to have your results confirmed.
- Remember that HIV is now a manageable illness if you do test positive you can start treatment which will keep you healthy.
is often the hardest step to take, but it is usually not as bad as you imagine.
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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
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
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Protecting Your Baby During Childbirth
If you take your treatment correctly, it will lower the amount of HIV in your body. In some people, the amount of HIV in their body can be reduced to such low levels that it is said to be undetectable .
This means that you can plan to have a vaginal delivery because the risk of passing on HIV to your baby during childbirth will be extremely small.
If you dont have an undetectable viral load, you may be offered a caesarean section, as this carries a smaller risk of passing HIV to your baby than a vaginal delivery.
If your HIV test result comes back positive, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby.
I was diagnosed with HIV. After a few years I entered a relationship and we decided to have children. My HIV consultant assured me that it was fine since my viral load was undetectable. I had my twins through C-section, which was planned.
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.
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If My Test Is Negative Do I Need Get Tested Again
Talk to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site to see if you need to get tested again.
Some reasons to get tested again include if you:
- have sex without a condom
- are a guy who has sex with other guys
- have had sex with more than three partners in the past year
- get an STD
- are a woman and are pregnant
Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
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Will The Doctor Call You If Your Hiv Test Result Is Positive
How HIV test results are handled varies from doctor to doctor, and from office to office. Most doctors will be unwilling to share or discuss HIV test results on the phone — whether the result is negative or positive.
If your test does show that you have HIV, the doctor is likely to be keen to ensure that you receive the result. As it is a serious medical condition, it would be important that you receive the information. So you might be asked to come into the office or to make an appointment, to discuss your test results.
But that doesn’t mean that anyone who is asked to come in for follow-up is going to get an HIV positive result. There are SO MANY other possible reasons why your doctor might want to talk to you.
- Most doctors prefer to only give HIV test results face-to-face, whether the result is negative or positive.
- It is good practice to ensure that all people taking an HIV test get their results, whether the result is negative or positive.
- There may have been a technical problem with the test and they may need to take another sample to test again.
- You were probably tested for several other things at the same time as HIV. The results of these tests may need to be discussed.
Some services do provide HIV test results over the phone, but this will usually have been arranged and discussed at the time of taking the test.
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
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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 Easy Is It To Get
Itâs extremely difficult to give an exact risk of getting HIV. Thatâs because it depends on a number of factors, including how much of the virus is in the other personâs fluids and how itâs getting into your body . The important thing to know is that while each time you have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive the likelihood youâll become infected is pretty low , those numbers are true every time you do that act. So the risk can pile up if youâre having sex with an HIV positive person multiple times. Itâs also important to remember that you can get infected the first time you have sex with someone.
Itâs also important to take into account the amount of virus in the other personâs blood. When someone first gets infected, the virus goes all spring break on your body while your immune system scrambles to retaliate. During this time of primary HIV infection, you have a lot of copies of the virus in your system, which means you are very infectious to other people. With proper medication and care, you can get the number of these copies very low, reducing the likelihood of transmission significantly.
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Is Hiv Testing Confidential
Confidential testing means that your HIV test results will include your name and other identifying information, and the results will be included in your medical record. HIV-positive test results will be reported to local or state health departments to be counted in statistical reports. Health departments remove all personal information from HIV test results before sharing the information with CDC. CDC uses this information for reporting purposes and does not share this information with any other organizations, including insurance companies.
Anonymous testing means you dont have to give your name when you take an HIV test. When you take the test, you receive a number. To get your HIV test results, you give the number instead of your name.