How Do Hiv Tests Work And What’s Involved
- There are plenty of places which offer free HIV testing you can find your nearest provider either by searching online or asking a healthcare professional.
- Testing for HIV is a simple and pain-free process. It involves giving a small sample of blood or oral fluid.
- Your results will be confidential and the healthcare provider will be able to explain the process and answer any questions you have. They are there to help you.
- HIV tests are very reliable. Some HIV tests will give a result within 20 minutes and others are sent to a lab so it may take a few weeks to get your results.
It is really common to feel a little worried about going for an HIV test, but making the decision to test is the best thing you can do for your health. The process is quick, painless, confidential and almost always free.
Importance Of Hiv Testing
If you have the virus, finding out quickly means you can start treatment right away so you can feel better and live a long, full life. You can also take steps so you don’t pass HIV to other people.
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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Is There A Cure For Hiv And Aids
There is no cure for HIV, although antiretroviral treatment can control the virus, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives.
Most research is looking for a functional cure where HIV is permanently reduced to undetectable and harmless levels in the body, but some residual virus may remain.
Other research is looking for a sterilising cure where HIV is removed from the body completely, but this is more complicated and risky.
Trials of HIV vaccines are encouraging, but so far only offer partial protection.
There is no cure for HIV yet. However, antiretroviral treatment can control HIV and allow people to live a long and healthy life.
For some people, treatment can reduce the level of HIV in their body to such a low amount that they are unable to pass it on . Having an undetectable viral load can keep you healthy, but its not a cure for HIV. To maintain an undetectable viral load a person must keep adhering to their antiretroviral treatment.
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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How Is Hiv Diagnosed
Diagnosis of HIV infection during infancy depends on the detection of the virus. Since all infants born to HIV-infected mothers have a positive antibody test at birth because of the passive transfer of the HIV antibody across the placenta, virological testing is used to confirm the diagnosis.
For infants born to HIV-infected mothers, viral diagnostic testing is usually performed within the first 2 days of life, at 1 to 2 months of age, and at 4 to 6 months of age. A diagnosis of HIV infection can be made with two positive virologic tests obtained from different blood samples.
For children over 18 months, adolescents, or adults, diagnosis is made by testing the blood for the presence of HIV antibody.
Where Can I Go For Hiv Testing
You can get tested for HIV and other STDs at your doctors office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center. You might want to get your HIV test at a place that also has HIV counseling .
You can either get an anonymous” or “confidential HIV test, depending on the laws in the state that you live in. Confidential” testing means your name is on the test, and the results go in your medical records. Your doctors and insurance company may also see the results. If you test positive, your results are sent to your local health department so they know the rates of HIV in your area. But your results are protected by privacy laws, so nobody else can see them without your permission.
“Anonymous” testing means your name isnt on the test. Youll get an ID number that youll use to find out your results. Your results wont go in your medical records, and they wont be sent to your insurance company or the health department youre the only one who will know them.
STD testing, including HIV testing, isnt usually automatically part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam you have to ask for it directly. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out what tests are best for you. Dont be embarrassed: your doctor is there to help, not to judge.
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What Does The Test Measure
HIV tests detect the presence of the HIV virus, HIV antigens, and/or HIV antibodies. If these substances are detected, the test returns a positive result for HIV.
There are three types of HIV tests available:
- Antibody test: Antibodies are produced by the body after an HIV infection. It can take weeks for the body to produce antibodies, so HIV antibody tests can only detect HIV from 3 to 12 weeks after infection.
- Antigen/antibody test: Antigens are foreign substances that activate an immune response. Antigens appear before the body produces antibodies, so HIV antigen/antibody tests can detect an HIV infection earlier than antibody tests, within 2 to 4 weeks of becoming infected.
- HIV viral load test: An HIV viral load test looks for the quantity of HIV virus in the blood. In addition to detecting an HIV infection, viral load testing can also detect how much of the virus is in the blood. Although this type of testing can detect an HIV infection earlier than other HIV tests, its very expensive and is typically only used when someone has symptoms or a possible exposure to HIV.
Work With Your Provider
It is so important to get medical care and start treatment as soon as you find out you have HIV. Please see a provider with experience treating people with HIV. Most VA providers who treat HIV are specialists in infectious disease. They work with a team of other health professionals who focus on HIV as a chronic, or lifelong, disease.
Treatments for HIV are not perfect , but are very tolerable and extremely effective for most people. They also work very well to minimize the chance that you may transmit HIV to sex partners . A health care provider can explain the best options for you.
Start a list or notebook of your questions or concerns so you don’t forget anything. Prepare for your appointment with your provider by writing down:
You may want to ask a friend or family member to come with you and take notes.
If you feel your provider has forgotten something during the appointment, it is better to ask about it than to leave wondering about it. It’s your right to ask questions of your provider. You also have a legal right to see your medical records.
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How Accurate Is An Hiv Test What Is The Window Period For An Hiv Test
The current testing protocols are highly accurate but not perfect. The probability of a false result on the test depends on the test and on the person’s risk factors for getting infected. The lower the risk of getting HIV, the higher the probability of a false- positive result.
Falsely negative tests occur in people who are truly infected with HIV but have negative tests. Among 1,000 people who are truly infected, rapid tests will be falsely negative in zero to six people, depending on the test. Negative antibody tests in people infected with HIV may occur because antibody concentrations are low or because antibodies have not yet developed. On average, antibodies take about four weeks to reach detectable levels after initial infection, and falsely negative tests may occur during this so-called HIV window period. Individuals with negative tests and who had high risk for HIV exposure should be retested in two to three months.
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.
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How Do People Get Hiv
You can get HIV when body fluids from an infected person enter your bloodstream. Body fluids are blood, semen, vaginal fluids, fluids from the anus, and breast milk.
The virus can enter the blood through linings in the mouth, anus, or sex organs , or through broken skin. Both men and women can spread HIV.
You can have HIV and feel okay and still give the virus to others. Pregnant women with HIV can also give the virus to their babies.
The most common ways that people get HIV are having sex with an infected person and sharing a needle to take drugs.
You cannot get HIV from:
- Touching or hugging someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Public bathrooms or swimming pools.
- Sharing cups, utensils, or telephones with someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Bug bites.
- Donating blood.
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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The Healthcare Worker There To Help You
Before you test, your healthcare worker will talk to you about your sexual health and why youve decided to test. This is to help them understand your situation so they can offer you the best services and advice.
Remember, the healthcare professional is not there to judge you. There will be nothing you can say that they havent heard before so be honest with them, and ask as many questions as you want. Thats what theyre there for.
You should never feel pressured to test. The results will be completely confidential but you should only go through with it if you want to.
Symptoms And Stages Of Hiv Infection
- There are three stages of HIV infection. The symptoms vary in type and severity from person-to-person.
- Stage 1 after initial infection can feel like flu but not everyone will experience this.
- Stage 2 is when many people start to feel better and may last for 10 years or more. During this time a person may have no symptoms.
- Stage 3 is when a persons immune system is very badly damaged and can no longer fight off serious infections and illnesses.
- The earlier a person is diagnosed with HIV and starts treatment, the better their health will be over time.
- Some people dont get any symptoms during stages 1 and 2, and may not know they have the virus, but they can still pass on HIV.
The signs of HIV infection can vary in type and severity from person-to-person, and some people may not have any symptoms for many years.
The stages below describe how HIV infection progresses in the body if it is left untreated. Without antiretroviral treatment for HIV, the virus replicates in the body and causes more and more damage to the immune system.
However with effective treatment, you can keep the virus under control and stop it from progressing. This is why its important to start treatment as soon as possible after testing positive.
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How Can I Get Tested
To get tested, you can:
- Ask your doctor to test you.
- Go to a local clinic or community health center.
- Go to National HIV and STD Testing Resources to find a testing center near you.
- Buy a test at a pharmacy and do the test at home.
Many testing centers will do an HIV test for free. Ask if there is a fee before you go for testing. In most states you do not need a parent’s permission to get tested for HIV. And you can buy the test at the pharmacy without a parent.
Where Can People Find More Information About Hiv Testing
There are several resources for people interested about the facts of HIV testing.
- The national HIV, STD, and hepatitis testing site Get Tested helps visitors find free, fast, and confidential testing.
The CDC web site is also an excellent source of information: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/testing.html.
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Why Is The Hiv Rna Test Used To Test Newborns For Hiv Infection
Babies born to mothers infected with HIV are typically tested soon after birth to help determine whether the mother has passed the infection to her baby. An HIV RNA test is performed in babies instead of standard screening HIV antibody tests because antibodies to HIV produced by the mother can cross the placenta and enter the babys blood. If an HIV antibody test were to be performed on a baby, the result could be positive even though the baby is not infected with the virus.
An infant with a positive HIV RNA test is likely infected with the virus. Repeat testing done on a second blood specimen is done to confirm the diagnosis. A negative HIV RNA test means that the baby is not infected . If negative, the test is usually repeated when the infant is older than 1 month and again when the baby is older than 4 months. This may be necessary as the amount of virus may not be at a detectable level.
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.
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How Do I Get Tested For Hiv
A small blood sample, mouth swab, or urine sample is used to test people for HIV. It can take as long as three to six months after initial exposure for the signs of the virus to show up in your blood, and years before you show any symptoms.
You can be tested at a doctor’s office, hospital, community health center, or other health clinic. Some places have mobile testing vans. AIDS services organizations also may provide testing. At-home testing kits are also available.
Depending on where you go, testing may be free. You may be able to choose to take the test without giving your name. Many providers or groups that offer HIV testing also provide counseling.
If you choose to take a test at home, make sure to use a test that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . If the test has not been approved by the FDA, it may not give accurate results. Home tests are sold at drugstores and online. Follow up with your doctor to confirm the results of at-home tests and, if necessary, begin treatment.