What To Expect Next
If you find out you are HIV-positive, its important to keep in mind the condition is treatable. Antiretroviral therapy is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. It works by lowering the amount of virus in the body to very low levels. This treatment can also slow the progression of the infection and protect the immune system.
Taking ART medications is vital to slowing the progression of HIV. Left untreated, HIV will progress to the second stage. During this stage, people may experience no symptoms at all. If no treatment is administered, an individual can stay in this stage for 10 to 15 years.
For people who have no symptoms of an acute HIV infection, it takes an average of seven years to proceed to AIDS.
When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who is showing symptoms of HIV should contact a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if the individual has recently had sexual contact with someone else or shared a needle with someone else.
HIV can remain asymptomatic for a long time. For this reason, anyone who has recently had unprotected sex and is concerned about exposure to HIV should contact a doctor as soon as they can, even if they do not have any symptoms. The same goes for anyone who has recently shared a needle.
It can be difficult to discuss the possibility of having HIV. However, without proper treatment, HIV can be life threatening. In these situations, it is very important for people to put their long-term health first and to discuss the matter with a doctor.
Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
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How Do Hiv Tests Work
There are two basic ways to get HIV test results:
Laboratory tests. For these tests, a technician will take a sample of your blood and test it. Youâll get results within a few days.
Rapid tests. These tests provide results in around 20 minutes. You can get them done in a community clinic or take them at home.
Hiv Stigma And Discrimination
HIV can prompt intense feelings in people, regardless of their HIV status. It is sometimes viewed with a sense of unacceptability or disgrace. A person with HIV may feel shame and despair about their status. An HIV-negative person may be fearful or angry when they discover someone has HIV. The relationship of these feelings to HIV is referred to as stigma.Felt stigma refers to deep feelings of shame and self-loathing, and the expectation of discrimination. It can have serious negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV by discouraging them from getting tested, receiving support, or taking treatment. It may also lead people to engage in high-risk behaviours that harm their health, and contribute to new HIV infections.Enacted stigma is the experience of unfair treatment by others. For people living with HIV this can be in the form of being treated differently and poorly, or through rejection, abuse, or discrimination.HIV stigma is particularly harmful when it overlaps with other factors that are stigmatised such as if a person uses drugs, is a sex worker, is trans or gender diverse.Breaking down stigma is a community response where:
If you have experienced stigma or discrimination from a health care provider, and are unable to resolve your complaint with them directly, contact the Health Complaints Commissioner
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How Do You Get Hiv
HIV infection can occur in the following ways:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse, especially receptive anal intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections increase the HIV transmission risk by three times syphilis raises the transmission risk by seven times and genital herpes raises the infection risk by 25 times during an outbreak
- Sharing IV needles or injections
- Receiving HIV infected blood products
- Needle-stick injuries
- Maternal HIV infection : The risk of transmission can be reduced at birth by practices like cesarean delivery and prenatal antiretroviral therapy in the mother, and antiretroviral therapy in the newborn immediately after birth
Making Hiv Testing Routine
Its recommended that you test for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections at least once a year if youre having sex, even if you always use protection.
You might want to test more regularly than this, for example, if you are having sex with a new partner or feel you are more at risk. Groups who are more at risk are recommended to test more regularly. Testing every 3-6 months is often advised for men who have sex with men.
Testing regularly helps keep your mind at rest, and if you test positive, it means you can start treatment quickly, protecting your health.
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Hiv Transmission In Drug Users
For people who inject drugs, estimates of the risk of transmission from a contaminated needle range from 0.3% to 4.0%, with several of these estimates falling in the range of 0.7% to 0.8%. Sharing ancillary injecting equipment, such as filters or cookers, has been shown to increase the risk of transmission, even in the absence of sharing needles and syringes. Other factors that have been shown to increase the risk of HIV transmission for injection drug users include: unsafe locations, type of drug and frequency of drug injection. Non-injection drug users are also at risk of HIV infection. Drug use often alters sexual behaviours by increasing risk taking. As well, several drugs have been reported to be independent risk factors of HIV transmission.
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.
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Screening For Hiv In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll be offered a blood test to check if you have HIV as part of routine antenatal screening.
If untreated, HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Treatment in pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of passing HIV on to the baby.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
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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When Should You Get Tested For Hiv After Condomless Sex
Theres a window period between the time a person is first exposed to HIV and when it will show up on different types of HIV tests.
During this window period, a person may test HIV-negative even though theyve contracted HIV. The window period can last anywhere from ten days to three months, depending on your body and the type of test that youre taking.
A person can still transmit HIV to others during this period. In fact, transmission may even be more likely because there are higher levels of the virus in a persons body during the window period.
Here is a quick breakdown of different types of HIV tests and the window period for each.
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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When To Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, its best to speak to a healthcare professional immediately.
Even if you dont think you have been at risk, testing regularly is good practice for people who are having sex. Its important to test for HIV during pregnancy. If you know your status, you can avoid passing the virus on to your baby. A window period is the amount of time it takes after infection for a test to give you an accurate result. Its good to know about window periods, but dont delay getting tested if you think you might have been exposed to HIV.
Can Hiv Be Transmitted During The Window Period
Its important to know that people can transmit HIV before seroconversion.
The time between exposure and the immune systems initial response is a period of acute HIV infection. Following the initial transmission, the amount of HIV in the body is extremely high. So is the risk of transmitting the virus. Thats because the body has yet to manufacture the antibodies needed to fight it, and its not yet receiving treatment.
During this stage, most people have no idea that theyve contracted HIV. Even if theyve been tested, they may have received a false negative result. This might lead to engaging in practices with known risk factors, such as sex without a condom, where a person could unknowingly spread the virus to other people.
Anyone who thinks theyve had a recent exposure should tell their healthcare provider. They may check the HIV viral load or prescribe preventive treatment for a month.
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How Soon After Covid
So you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19. How long will it take for you to know if youre infected?
The coronavirus affects everyone differently, including the amount of time it takes to start experiencing symptoms or get confirmation that you have the virus. That said, heres a general timeline you can expect and what else you should know:
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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Side Effects Of Hiv Treatment
People on current HIV treatments may experience mild side effects including:
- tiredness and fatigue
- skin rashes.
If you are on treatment, see your doctor every 3 to 6 months.
Regular blood tests are necessary to make sure your treatment is working and not causing serious side effects. It is recommended that you also get tested for STIs and talk to your doctor about your sexual health and overall wellbeing. Ensure you are having routine screening for cancers and keeping your vaccinations up to date.
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.
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Appendix C: Hiv Transmission Risk
This appendix is condensed from a more detailed technical report, HIV Transmission Risk: A Summary of the EvidenceFootnote 3 which synthesises the scientific evidence on the risk of HIV transmission through sexual activities, injection and other drug use, and mother-to-child transmission. Over 200 references formed the basis of the review, based on a search of the literature for the period between 2001 and March 2012 Footnote 4. The findings from this large body of evidence demonstrated the difficulties inherent in quantifying the risk of HIV transmission, in part due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors, including viral load and the presence of co-infections, in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
How Long Does It Take To See The Signs Of Hiv
The signs and symptoms of HIV may first appear within two to four weeks of infection. The stage in which the symptoms appear is called the stage of acute HIV infection. The symptoms appear due to the resistance or fight of the immune system against HIV. In the initial stage, the virus multiplies rapidly and spreads throughout the body. It targets and destroys the CD4 cells . As a result, the level of HIV in the blood and the chances of transmission at this stage are very high. It is crucial to recognize the early signs and seek medical help, since early diagnosis and treatment of HIV gets the best results.
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Reducing The Risk Of Hiv Transmission
The most effective way to prevent HIV transmission during sex is to use a condom. Get a condom ready before any sexual contact occurs, since HIV can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and from the anus.
Lubricants can also help reduce the risk of HIV transmission by helping to prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking. Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms, because oil-based lube can weaken latex and sometimes cause condoms to break.
The use of a dental dam, a small plastic or latex sheet that prevents direct contact between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex, is also effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
For people who may have a higher risk for contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at increased risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recent recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force. This includes anyone who is sexually active with more than one partner, or is in an ongoing relationship with someone whose HIV status is either positive or unknown.
Although PrEP does provide a high level of protection against HIV, its still best to use condoms as well. PrEP provides no protection against STIs other than HIV.
What Is The Test Process
The test is very simple. It involves your fingerbeing pricked to obtain some blood. This small volume of blood is then placed on a test strip. The test takes 20 minutes to develop, during which time you may be asked to sit in the waiting room. You will then be called back by the doctor for the result.
The test will either show as being negative or reactive. If the test is negative, you will be provided with the result. If the test is reactive, you will be asked to provide a standard blood test for further analysis in a laboratory. The result of this test may take a few days to return.Please note: A reactive result does not necessarily mean that you are HIV positive. A small number of these may be false positives and will return as a negative test on standard testing in the laboratory.
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