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.
Where To Get Tested For Hiv
Getting an HIV test is easy. Tests for HIV and other STIs are confidential and available from your local doctor , or a sexual and reproductive health clinic.
It is a good idea to have some pre-test counselling. Before the test, talk with your doctor, nurse, or peer tester about any concerns, your level of risk, whether you are likely to be HIV-positive and what a positive result may mean.
How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can An Hiv Test Detect If You Are Infected
No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis , right away.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.
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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.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know About Being Tested For Hiv
The decision to take the test and then wait for the results can be very stressful. If your test result is HIV-positive, you will have many decisions to make.
Even though it is stressful, you need this information to decide what is best for you and your family. Be reassured that there is support available if you find out you are HIV-positive during your pregnancy.
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White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are a subset of cells produced in bone marrow whose primary role is to fight infection. A white blood cell count is one of the panel of tests included in the CBC that measures not only the total number of leukocytes but also the different types of white blood cells in a blood sample, namely:
Within the context of HIV, an elevated WBC typically means that your body is fighting an infection. Other tests can then be performed to pinpoint the cause.
An elevation of certain white blood cells may indicate a specific type of infection or an allergic inflammatory response. For example, higher than normal eosinophils may suggest a parasitic infection like toxoplasmosis, while elevated basophils can develop in people with a hypersensitive drug reaction.
CD4 T-cell lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that HIV preferentially targets and infects. For this reason, they serve as the primary marker of your immune status if you have HIV.
How Often Do You Need To Get Tested For Hiv
How often you should get tested depends on your personal practices, risk behaviours, and how often you engage in them.
For most people, it is important to have a full sexual health test at least once each year. This testing includes:
Even if you always use condoms, it is recommended you get tested annually as condoms dont provide 100% protection against HIV and STIs.
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Who Has Access To Hiv Test Results
In B.C., positive HIV test results are shared with public health, in a confidential manner, to ensure that you and your partner are offered support and follow-up. In the event of a positive result, if you do not wish your full name to be reported to public health, you may request that your first name, initials and birth date be used as your identifying information when your results are reported.
Some clinics allow you to test using a numbered code and give no contact information. This is called anonymous testing, and is currently being offered at a limited number of sites in B.C.
Laboratory test results are kept in the provincial laboratory database. Your HIV test results may also be stored in your electronic health record within your health authority. Health care providers who are providing you with care will be able to see portions of your health care record. How much a health care provider can see of your record depends on their role. Health care providers who are not providing you with care will not be able to access your record. You can place disclosure directives on your electronic health records that enable you to choose who will have access to them. For more information, visit www.healthinfoprivacybc.ca/who-can-see-or-change-a-health-record/limiting-who-else-can-see-your-health-information.
Getting A Result Quickly
Many services offer rapid testing, which means a finger-prick test that will give you a result within minutes.
A self testing kit ordered online and done at home will normally give you a result up to 15 minutes, depending on the kit.
A blood sample taken at a testing centre will be sent to a lab, with results ready within a day or up to a week later.
If you use postal testing, the lab will normally contact you a week or so later with your result.
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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.
Should Pregnant Women Get Tested For Hiv
CDC recommends that all pregnant women get tested for HIV so that they can begin taking HIV medicines if they are HIV positive. Women with HIV take HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to protect their own health. For more information, read the ClinicalInfo fact sheet on Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.
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Who Should Get Screened For Hiv And When
For people in higher risk groups, more frequent testing is necessary. Unsafe sex practices and intravenous drug use put you at greater risk of contracting HIV.
- Had sex with an HIV-positive person or someone with an unknown HIV status
- Had sex in exchange for drugs or money
- Have been diagnosed with or treated for other sexually transmitted infections, which increase your risk of contracting HIV
- Have been diagnosed or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis
- Have had more than one sexual partner since your last HIV test
- Have had sex with someone for whom any of the above applies, or you had sex with someone whose sexual history you dont know
If you are the victim of sexual assault, its important to get tested.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting Tested
Getting tested can help find an infection early or when you have no symptoms. This is important so that:
- You can take steps to avoid spreading the infection.
- You can tell your sex partner so they can be tested, get treatment if needed, and avoid spreading the infection.
- You can start treatment right away. Treatment can help your immune system stay healthy and delay or prevent AIDS. And it may help you live longer. AIDS is the last and most severe stage of HIV infection. Treatment also lowers the chance that you will give the infection to a sex partner who doesn’t have the infection.3
- A sex partner who does not have HIV could choose to take medicine to help prevent getting infected with HIV.
- If you are pregnant, you can get early treatment that can reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby.
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What Happens If Abnormal Cells Are Detected By A Pap Smear
If a Pap smear shows the presence of abnormal cells on the cervix, the healthcare provider may recommend a colposcopy.
A colposcope uses low magnification to illuminate abnormalities of the cervix and surrounding area. At that time, the healthcare provider also may take a biopsy, which is a small piece of tissue, for laboratory examination.
In recent years, its become possible to test for the presence of HPV DNA directly. Collecting a tissue sample for DNA testing is similar to the process of taking a Pap smear and may be done at the same visit.
At-home testing can be used to screen for HIV, or the test can be performed at a healthcare providers office. Even if someone gets tested for STIs annually, they cant assume that any specific test, including a test for HIV, is part of a routine screen.
Anyone who wants an HIV screening should voice their concerns to their healthcare provider. This can spark a discussion about what STI screenings should be performed and when. The right screening schedule depends on a persons health, behaviors, age, among other factors.
What Happens If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your initial test is positive for HIV antibodies, then additional testing is required to confirm that the first one was accurate. Sometimes this involves a second blood test.
When you are first diagnosed you will probably experience strong emotions. During this time, do not try to cope on your own. Seek support by speaking with your doctor, or contact your local community organisation. They have trained peer workers available to help you through the initial stages of a positive diagnosis, but also through your journey of living well with HIV.
Part of testing best practice includes pre- and post-test counselling. Post-test counselling is important, regardless of the outcome. If you test positive, counselling can provide emotional support, further information about living with HIV, and referrals to support services.
If the test is negative, counselling can provide education about HIV and how to reduce your HIV risk in the future. are community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with HIV. Peer workers are also available to help you navigate living with HIV.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, visit Next Steps for more information.
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Hiv Testing In A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you take a test in a health care setting or a lab, a health care provider or lab technician will take your sample . If its a rapid test, you may be able to wait for the results, but if its a laboratory test, it can take several days for your results to be available. Your health care provider or counselor may talk with you about your risk factors, answer any questions you might have, and discuss next steps with you, especially if your result is positive.
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had an exposure during the window period for the test you took, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your HIV test result is positive, the lab will conduct follow-up testing, usually on the same sample as the first.
Can Hiv Be Transmitted Through Blood Transfusions
Yes but this is very rare. In the unlikely event that a person who is HIV-positive donates blood products that are not tested, the person who receives the blood product is likely to develop an HIV infection too.
If youre thinking about donating blood but are not sure about your HIV status, you can request an HIV test in advance of donating at your local clinic.
In order to prevent this, international health regulations require all blood products, such as organs or tissues, to be screened for a number of viral or bacterial contaminations before they are used.
This means that the transmission of HIV through blood products is very rare, but examples have occurred in some low-income countries which lack the equipment to test all blood.
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Types Of Hiv Tests And Their Window Periods
- Nucleic Acid Test A NAT can usually tell you if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure
- Antigen/Antibody TestAn antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antigen/antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick take longer to detect HIV .
- Antibody TestAn antibody test can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after an exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
Ask your health care provider or test counselor about the window period for the test youre taking and whether you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results. If youre using a self-test, you can get that information from the materials included in the tests package.
If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period. Remember, you can only be sure you are HIV-negative if:.
- Your most recent test is after the window period
- You havent had a potential HIV exposure during the window period. If you do have an exposure, then you will need to be retested.
Which Home Tests Screen For Hiv
With the Home Access HIV-1 Test System, a person takes a pinprick of their blood and sends it off to a lab for testing. They can call the lab in a day or two to receive the results. Positive results are routinely retested to ensure that the result is accurate.
This test is less sensitive than one that uses blood from a vein, but its more sensitive than one using a mouth swab.
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test uses a swab of saliva from the mouth. Results are available in 20 minutes. If a person tests positive, theyll be referred to testing sites for a follow-up test to ensure accuracy. Learn more about home tests for HIV.
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Why Its Important To Test
If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Once youre on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable then you can’t pass the virus on to anyone else.
If you wait to test, the virus could do a lot of damage. There is a lot of support available for people who test positive.
Is Hiv Testing Confidential
Yes, a persons decision to pursue HIV testing and their HIV status are both confidential pieces of information, except in very rare cases. The maintenance of confidentiality is an important consideration for a person who has decided to be tested for HIV. As with all medical information, it is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that the confidentiality of the person being tested is maintained.
There are very limited circumstances in which confidentiality may be broken without consent. For example, the law may require your personal information to be released or some information may be required to be released to public health.
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