What Is It Used For
An HIV test is used to find out if you have been infected with HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . Most people with HIV don’t have AIDS. People with AIDS have an extremely low number of immune cells and are at risk for life-threatening illnesses, including dangerous infections, a severe type of pneumonia, and certain cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.
If HIV is found early, you can get medicines to protect your immune system. HIV medicines may prevent you from getting AIDS.
Other Factors Influencing Hiv Transmission Risk
Within each route of transmission, estimates of the risk of transmission vary widely, likely due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors. Viral load appears to be an important predictor of transmission, regardless of route of transmission. However, the evidence indicates that viral load is not the only determinant, and other co-factors, such as the presence of co-infections, play a role in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
The strongest predictor of sexual transmission of HIV is plasma viral load . A dose-response relationship has been observed, where each ten-fold increase in plasma VL resulted in an increased relative risk of transmission of 2.5 to 2.9 per sexual contact. The concentration of HIV in genital secretions also plays a major role in sexual transmission. While there is a strong correlation between HIV concentrations in plasma and in genital secretions, some studies have found genital tract HIV shedding in 20% to 30% of men and women without detectable plasma viral load. Much of what is known about the impact of viral load on the sexual transmission of HIV is derived from studies of heterosexual populations. Very little is known about the relationship between HIV viral load and rate of transmission through anal intercourse.
Is Hiv Testing Confidential
HIV testing can be confidential or anonymous.
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 do not 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.
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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 a sample of your blood or oral fluid. 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 rapid test 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.
How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of an HIV test is usually covered by insurance without a copay, although specific costs depend on a persons insurance coverage and where the test is performed. Check with your health plan and health care provider for specific cost details.
At-home HIV tests cost below $50. Health departments and community-based organizations may provide HIV self-test kits for free or at a reduced cost.
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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 perinatal transmission of HIV and to protect their own health. For more information, read the HIVinfo fact sheet on Preventing Perinatal Transmission of HIV.
Hiv Is Detected With A Blood Test
Blood tests are the most common and reliable tests for HIV. The virus is detected by taking a sample of your blood either with a conventional blood test or a rapid test .There is a short period of time between exposure to HIV and the ability for tests to detect HIV or its antibodies. This is often referred to as the ‘window period’ between 2 and 12 weeks.
Most tests used in Australia can detect HIV as early as 2 to 4 weeks after infection.
If your blood test shows that HIV or its antibodies are present, you are HIV-positive.
If you have no antibodies in your blood you are HIV-negative. Sometimes negative results might also mean you are in the window period, so you might need a follow-up blood test to make sure.
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Planning For Hiv Testing
Providing extended counselling, while preferred, may act as a barrier to testing for both the care provider and the testing client. The considerable resources and time required to conduct extensive risk assessments and pre- and post-test counselling have limited the ability of care providers to offer HIV testing. Behaviour-based risk assessments may also deter individuals from accessing testing, as such practices may involve revealing sensitive personal information. Both providers and clients may feel uncomfortable discussing such topics and, consequently, may avoid testing. The result is “missed opportunities” to diagnose those unaware of their HIV infection and link them with the treatment, care and support they need.
Providing sufficient information and supportive resources in conjunction with HIV testing does not necessarily require expertise in counselling or therapy. The level of support required in any given testing situation is highly dependent on the type of test and the testing client. While some clients may require comprehensive counselling, others may only need an abbreviated discussion supplemented with information resources such as brochures or websites.
What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- No, thats not right. You could have HIV and not have symptoms. Or you might mistake early symptoms for the flu or mono. But those symptoms go away, and then you may not have other symptoms for years. During that time, the virus will multiply in your body and damage your immune system.
- Yes, thats right. You could have HIV and not have symptoms. Or you might mistake early symptoms for the flu or mono. But those symptoms go away, and then you may not have other symptoms for years. During that time, the virus will multiply in your body.
- It may help to go back and read Get the Facts. You could have HIV and not have symptoms. Or you might mistake early symptoms for the flu or mono. But those symptoms go away, and then you may not have other symptoms for years. During that time, the virus will multiply in your body.
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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.
Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
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What Types Of Tests Diagnose Hiv
To diagnose HIV, healthcare providers can order any of three tests:
- Nucleic acid test: The NAT test looks for the virus in your blood. It is a thorough laboratory test but can be costly. The results can take several days to receive.
- Antigen/antibody test: This test looks for antibodies and antigens to HIV in your blood. Your immune system forms antibodies when it comes in contact with viruses, such as HIV. Antigens, however, are foreign substances that activate your immune system. HIV has a particular antigen that this test can find. This rapid test uses a drop of blood from a finger prick and can give you results in roughly 30 minutes.
- HIV antibody test: This test is similar to the antigen/antibody test, but it only looks for the antibody. Just like the antigen/antibody test, this test produces results in around 30 minutes. It uses either a drop of blood from a finger prick or a swab of saliva.
Some states allow for home testing. There are two types of home tests:
- Rapid self-test: The only rapid self-test available in the United States uses a saliva sample to check for infection. After you receive your kit, you swab your gums and use the test kit to get results.
- Mail-in self-test: This test uses a blood sample from a simple finger prick. All of the supplies are in the kit to help you take the sample, package it and send it to the lab. A healthcare provider will tell you the results.
Letting Partners Know You Have Hiv
If you have just been diagnosed with HIV, it will likely be a difficult time. You might still be struggling to come to terms with diagnosis.
During this time, it is important to let any sexual or injecting partners know they may have been exposed to HIV as soon as you can, so they can be tested and offered PEP if appropriate.
You do not have to do this alone. Your doctor or the Department of Health and Human Services Partner Notification Officers can help you through this process and ensure your identity is not revealed.. Both groups can provide information, support, and guidance for people living with HIV.
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Window Periods Of Rapid Tests
The window period refers to the time after infection and before seroconversion, during which markers of infection are still absent or too scarce to be detectable. Tests cannot reliably detect HIV infection until after the window period has passed. All tests have a window period, which varies from test to test.
Delaney and colleagues estimated window periods for a handful of rapid tests in a 2017 study. However, all these estimates were based on testing blood plasma. In practice, tests are usually done on fingerprick blood and the window period is likely to be several days longer.
The fourth-generation Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo was estimated to have a median window period of 19 days . This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 15 and 25 days after exposure. Ninety-nine per cent of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 43 days of exposure.
The third-generation INSTI HIV-1/HIV-2 test was estimated to have a median window period of 26 days . This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 22 and 31 days after exposure. Ninety-nine per cent of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 50 days of exposure.
UK guidelines take a cautious approach, describing the window period for all rapid, point-of-care tests as 90 days.
Hiv Doesnt Always Progress To Stage 3
HIV is a virus, and AIDS is the condition the virus may cause. An HIV infection doesnt necessarily progress to stage 3. In fact, many people with HIV live for years without developing AIDS. Thanks to advances in treatment, a person living with HIV can expect to live a near-normal life span.
While a person can have an HIV infection without having AIDS, anyone diagnosed with AIDS has already contracted HIV. Because there is no cure, the HIV infection never goes away, even if AIDS never develops.
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Factors That Increase Risk For Hiv Infection
Sexually active but no history of being tested for HIV.
Use of shared drug equipment with a partner whose HIV status is unknown.
Unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse with a partner whose HIV status is unknown.
Multiple and/or anonymous sexual partnering.
For men, a history of sex with other men.
Diagnosis of other STI, hepatitis B or C.
Sexual activity, sharing of drug-use equipment, or receipt of blood or blood products for people originating from, or who have travelled to, regions where HIV is endemic.
Receipt of blood or blood products in Canada prior to November 1985.
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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The Accuracy Of Different Rapid Tests
A wide range of point-of-care tests have been manufactured in many countries, but only a few of them have been subject to rigorous, independent evaluations, and even fewer are marketed in the UK. Research on HIV tests is only occasionally published in medical journals. Informally, laboratory professionals may have insights into which tests perform best.
Because of the possibility that a positive result from a single HIV test is, in fact, a false positive, the result is described as ‘reactive’ rather than ‘positive’. If the result is reactive, this indicates that the test has reacted to something in the blood and needs to be investigated with follow-up tests.
It is important to verify that any test used is CE marked. This should mean that the test conforms to European health and safety legislation, although it does not necessarily mean that test performance has been independently evaluated.
There are variations in accuracy from one test to another, with some older tests that are not usually marketed in the UK having a sub-optimal sensitivity and specificity. However, evaluations by the World Health Organization of several rapid diagnostic tests that either have CE marks or are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration , indicate that most are extremely accurate. The key measures of accuracy are sensitivity and specificity .
“All HIV tests need to have reactive results confirmed with further tests.”
Will Va Tell My Spouse Or Partner That I Have Hiv
In VA, your results are entered in your medical record, but there are strict laws to protect the confidentiality of your HIV test results.
If you test positive for HIV, it is important for your spouse or partner to be tested for HIV, for the sake of their health and to prevent the infection from being passed to others. Your health care provider can help you prepare to inform your partner if you want or need help, and can arrange for them to be tested. Or your provider can arrange for them to be notified by a partner counseling and notification service through a local health department.
Your spouse or partner may be informed of your HIV status without your involvement only if it is clear that you have not told them, and your provider has determined that you are unlikely to do so.
It is important to know, though, that different states have different laws about disclosing someone’s HIV status. Your provider can advise you about the requirements in your state.
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Treatment And Life Expectancy
If HIV develops into stage 3 HIV, life expectancy drops significantly. Its difficult to repair damage to the immune system at this point. Infections and other conditions, such as certain cancers, resulting from severe immune system impairment are common. However, with successful antiretroviral therapy and some immune system recovery, many people with stage 3 HIV live long lives.
With todays treatments for HIV infection, people can live with HIV and never have AIDS develop. Its also important to note that successful antiretroviral treatment and a sustained undetectable viral load greatly lowers the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner.