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.
Routes Of Hiv Transmission
In Scotland, HIV is most commonly transmitted by having sex with someone who has HIV without using any form of protection, such as HIV PrEP or condoms.
A person with HIV can only pass the virus to others if they have a detectable level of virus. People living with HIV who are taking treatment and have undetectable levels of virus in their bodies can’t transmit HIV to others.
Over 90% of people living with HIV in Scotland have undetectable levels of virus.
The main routes of transmission are unprotected receptive or insertive vaginal and anal sex. The risk of transmitting HIV through oral sex is extremely low.
Other ways of getting HIV include:
- sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
- from mother to baby before or during birth when the mother isn’t taking HIV medication
- from mother to baby by breastfeeding when the mother isn’t taking HIV medication
- sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV and who isn’t taking HIV medication
- blood transfusion
What Is The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The term AIDS refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Most of the conditions affecting people with AIDS are opportunistic infections that generally do not affect healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so ravaged by HIV that the body cannot fight off the infection. Symptoms of opportunistic infections common in people with AIDS include:
- coughing and shortness of breath
- seizures and lack of coordination
- difficult or painful swallowing
- severe headaches
People with AIDS also are particularly prone to developing various cancers. These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS.
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Increased Outbreaks Of Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
For people who already have another sexually transmitted infection , HIV can lead to worsening symptoms.
Human papillomavirus , which causes genital warts, is more active in people who have HIV. HIV can also cause more frequent and more intense outbreaks in people with genital herpes. Their bodies may not respond as well to their herpes treatment, either.
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids. This can happen through sharing needles during drug use or through sexual intercourse. Key ways to reduce the risk of HIV include the following:
- not sharing needles when using injected drugs
- taking pre-exposure prophylaxis the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends this preventive medication for people with known risk factors for HIV
- not douching after sex it can alter the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, making an existing infection worse or increasing the risk of contracting HIV and STDs
- using a condom, properly, if not in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner
Women without HIV who have HIV-positive partners arent at risk of contracting the virus if their partner uses HIV medications daily and achieves viral suppression, though ongoing use of a condom is recommended.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source , HIV-positive people pose effectively no risk of transmitting HIV when their viral load is consistently measured at fewer than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
Hiv Post Exposure Prophylaxis
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV and you haven’t taken PrEP medication or used a condom, you should take PEP medication.
Post exposure prophylaxis is a form of emergency HIV medication taken by someone who does not have HIV but who has or may have been very recently exposed to HIV.
PEP should be taken as soon as possible, but it can be taken up to 72 hours after exposure. The earlier it is taken the more effective it is.
PEP is available from sexual health services or out of hours from A& E.
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Are Certain Activities Higher Risk
Yep. Penis-in-anus and penis-in-vagina sex are higher risk activities.
Penis-in-anus sex is the riskiest type of sex for contracting or transmitting HIV. The risk is higher for the receptive partner, sometimes referred to as the bottom.
This is because the rectums lining is very thin. Tiny abrasions give infected bodily fluids direct access to the bloodstream.
The risk is slightly lower for the insertive partner, or top, though they can still contract HIV. The virus can enter the body through the urethra, the foreskin , or any open sores or tiny scratches on the penis.
Penis-in-vagina sex isnt as risky as anal, but its still higher risk. Most vagina-having folks who contract HIV do so from penis-in-vagina sex .
A person with a vagina can contract HIV from unprotected sex when the virus enters the body through the mucus membranes lining the vagina and cervix.
The partner with the penis contracts it from blood or vaginal fluid that enters the body through the urethra, foreskin, or small cuts or open sores on the penis.
This involves the mother with HIV taking ART as prescribed all through pregnancy and childbirth, as well as giving the baby HIV medicine for 4 to 6 weeks after birth.
What Happens If My Test Is Positive
If you test positive for HIV, it is important to remember that with treatment you can live a long, healthy life. In fact, with early treatment, people with HIV can live about as long as people that are not infected.
A team approach will help you get the medical care and support that you need. Start by talking to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site. He or she can help you with suggestions on how to talk to your parents or guardians and how to find a health care provider who’s an HIV specialist. By starting treatment as soon as possible, you can stay healthy and learn to live well with HIV.
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How Can A Woman Reduce Her Chances Of Contracting Hiv
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood and semen. Using injection drugs, having unprotected sex and having multiple sex partners increases the chances of acquiring HIV. The only way to be absolutely certain you do not become infected with HIV is to not have sex and not use injection drugs. You also can avoid infection by only having one sex partner as long as your partner does not have HIV and has sex only with you. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention , using a male or female condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex can greatly lower your risk of infection. Using condoms for oral sex will reduce your risk for other STDs as well. It also is important not to douche, since douching removes some of the normal vaginal bacteria that can protect you from infection.
What Is A Realistic Possibility Of Transmission
Persons living with HIV have a duty to disclose their HIV status before sex that poses a realistic possibility of transmission. This legal test determines when non-disclosure invalidates consent to sexual activity in other words, when the law will deem after the fact that the HIV negative partner did not consent, even though she or he may have consented at the time of sexual activity.
The SCC held that there is no realistic possibility of transmission where the person living with HIV had a low or undetectable viral load at the time the sexual activity took place, and a condom was used . The SCC also acknowledged that advances in medical treatment of HIV may narrow the circumstances where there is a duty to disclose HIV positive status. The most recent medical science on HIV transmission is therefore relevant to determining if there was a realistic possibility of transmitting HIV.
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Is There Anything You Can Do To Prevent Other Forms Of Transmission
Avoid sharing drug injection equipment, like needles and syringes, which can expose someone to blood infected with HIV.
Keep any alcohol intake or drug use in check. If needed, consider seeking help for substance use, which is linked to a higher risk of HIV and other STIs.
Dont hesitate to reach out to your doctor or another healthcare professional if you or your partner has any concerns.
A healthcare professional can help you with:
- HIV and STI testing
What Are Some Examples Of Antiretrovirals
Here are some examples of antiretrovirals. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.
Two or more medicines may be combined into one pill. This list does not include any of these combined medicines.
Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors
This is not a complete list.
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Should I Get Vaccines If I Have Hiv/aids
Check with your healthcare provider. Certain vaccines are generally recommended, including:
- Influenza vaccine.
- Pneumonia vaccine.
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, with a repeat every 10 years of the tetanus/diphtheria vaccine.
You should probably avoid live vaccines, such as the ones for chickenpox and measles, mumps and rubella . This is true especially if your CD4 numbers are 200 or lower. Make sure you discuss vaccine questions with your healthcare provider.
HIV can affect how well the vaccine works. It can also make your viral load increase for a time because your immune system is stimulated by the vaccine.
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
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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
Is There A Cure For Hiv
There is no cure for HIV. But if you acquire the virus, there are drugs that help suppress the level of HIV in the body and prevent its spread to other people. Doctors use a combination of drugs called HAART to treat HIV/AIDS. Although it is not a cure, HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths from HIV-related complications in the United States. HIV has become like a chronic disease, and people living with HIV receiving successful treatment can live a long and healthy life.
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Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by
- Getting tested for HIV
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases
- Not injecting drugs
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
Treatment To Prevent Hiv Infection
Health care workers who are at risk for HIV because of an accidental needle stick or other exposure to body fluids may need medicine to prevent infection.footnote 13
Medicine may also prevent HIV infection in a person who has been raped or was accidentally exposed to the body fluids of a person who may have HIV.footnote 14 This type of treatment is usually started within 72 hours of the exposure.
Studies have shown that treatment with antiretroviral medicine also can reduce the risk of an uninfected person getting infected through sex.footnote 15, footnote 16
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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.
What Is The Testing Process Like
You can get tested for HIV at your GP surgery, clinics run by charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and sexual health clinics too.
You can also do home tests which are discreet and easy to use.
Many clinics offer finger-prick blood tests, but home testing kits vary. You may be directed to take a swab from your vagina or throat, give a urine sample, or give a finger-prick blood sample.
Dr Dutt assures that none of the tests should hurt and they should not take long to carry out. They can be done privately in your home or with a professional, depending on what’s comfortable for you.
Depending on the type of test, results can take a few minutes, or a few days to come back. If your first test is positive, a second blood test will need to be carried out to confirm the result.
If your test comes back positive, you’ll be referred to a specialist HIV clinic for some more tests and a discussion about your treatment options.
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What Is An Hiv Test
A confidential HIV test can be performed by your doctor. There are three types of tests that look at your bodily fluids to check for signs of HIV: nucleic acid tests , antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
- NAT tests require drawing your blood to look for both the presence of HIV and how much of the virus is present, known as your viral load. The benefit of a NAT test is that it can detect HIV earlier than other types of tests. The downside is that these tests are very expensive. Typically, we use this test if youre exhibiting HIV infection symptoms or if youve had a high risk of exposure to the virus.
- Antigen/Antibody tests also draw blood, although there is a rapid test that requires a finger stick. This type of testing searches for antibodies that are produced in the blood by your immune system to fight the HIV invading cells. If HIV is in your body, you will produce an antigen called p24. The test looks for p24 as well as the antibodies that signal your body is fighting the infection.
- HIV Antibody tests just look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluids. These tests also require blood to be drawn from a vein.
The time for receiving test results spans several days to less than a few hours. Talk with your doctor about what type of test is right for you.
What We Know About Hiv Testing
About 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV dont know they have it. Getting an HIV test is the only way to know your HIV status. HIV testing is easier, more available, and more accurate than ever. There are three types of HIV tests available in the United States some can detect HIV sooner than others.
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Stay On Top Of Medications Including Art Prep And Pep
There are a few medications available that can help prevent the transmission of HIV:
- ART. A person living with HIV may take medication known as ART to help them stay healthy and prevent the transmission of HIV. Most people who take it as prescribed can lower their viral load to an undetectable level.
- PrEP. Short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP is a drug that someone who is HIV-negative can take to lower the risk of contracting HIV by as much as 99 percent .
- PEP.Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a drug regimen that can help reduce the risk of HIV after a possible exposure when started within 72 hours.