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.
How Healthcare Providers Can Facilitate Hiv Screening
Healthcare providers should take an active approach to HIV screening, as earlier diagnosis and treatment leads to better health outcomes. Individuals with positive results should be linked to treatment and care. Those with negative results may benefit from counselling on risk reduction and prevention measures.
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.
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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.
Early Symptoms In Primary Hiv
The first noticeable stage is primary HIV infection. This stage is also called acute retroviral syndrome , or acute HIV infection. Because HIV infection at this stage usually causes flu-like symptoms, its possible for someone in this stage to think their symptoms are due to a severe flu rather than HIV. Fever is the most common symptom.
Other symptoms include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , primary HIV symptoms may show up two to four weeks after initial exposure. Symptoms can continue for up to several weeks. However, some people may exhibit the symptoms only for a few days.
People with early HIV sometimes dont show any symptoms, yet they can still transmit the virus to others. This is attributed to the fast, unrestrained viral replication that occurs in the early weeks after contracting the virus.
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Detecting Hiv: Seroconversion Time Is Important
When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus , timing can affect HIV test results. Although tests have become more accurate, none of them can detect an HIV infection immediately after its contracted.
The bodys defense mechanisms kick into action after contracting HIV. The immune system begins to develop antibodies to attack the virus. This production of HIV antibodies is called seroconversion. Before seroconversion, there may not be detectable levels of HIV antibodies in a persons blood.
Before seroconversion, an HIV blood test could produce a false negative result. A positive HIV antibody test will not appear until the body makes enough HIV antibodies to be detected.
How Long Does Seroconversion Take
The timeframe between when a person contracts HIV and when tests can detect the infection is known as the window period. Everyones immune system is different. This makes it difficult to predict how long this stage will last.
Scientists have developed sensitive blood tests since the early days of the HIV epidemic. Its now possible to detect HIV antibodies, as well as other components of HIV, earlier than ever before. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, most people test positive within a few weeks of contracting HIV. For others, it may take
During the window period, a person may develop symptoms similar to the flu or other common viruses that include:
- swollen lymph nodes
Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. And they may range from mild to severe. But its possible to pass through the early infection stage without experiencing any symptoms at all. During this time, a person may not even realize that theyve contracted HIV.
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Hiv Not As Infectious Soon After Transmission As Thought
- University of Texas at Austin
- People who recently have been infected with HIV may not be as highly infectious as previously believed, a finding that could improve global efforts to prevent HIV transmission and save lives. In particular, the finding bolsters the strategy of treating patients with antiretroviral drugs before the onset of AIDS to prevent transmission.
People who recently have been infected with HIV may not be as highly infectious as previously believed, a finding that could improve global efforts to prevent HIV transmission and save lives. In particular, the finding bolsters the strategy of treating patients with antiretroviral drugs before the onset of AIDS to prevent transmission.
Mathematical epidemiologists Steve Bellan, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin, and Lauren Ancel Meyers, a biology professor at the university, authored the paper with researchers from McMaster University and Yale University. The analysis was published today in the open access online journal PLOS Medicine.
“We found that people are less likely to spread HIV to others during this early stage than has been believed for many years,” Bellan said. “Our new estimates imply that some novel strategies to control HIV may be even more effective, and it can help communities to direct public health resources to save more lives.”
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Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
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Does Pep Cause Side Effects
PEP is safe, but the HIV medicines used for PEP may cause side effects like nausea in some people. In almost all cases, these side effects can be treated and arent life-threatening.
If you are taking PEP, talk to your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
PEP medicines may also interact with other medicines that a person is taking . For this reason, its important to tell your health care provider about any other medicines that you take.
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.
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S To Take After Being Exposed To Hiv
Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV should get tested. If the initial test results are negative, schedule a follow-up test.
Ask a healthcare provider or contact the local department of public health to find out where to go for testing. Testing sites may offer either anonymous or confidential testing, depending on the laws in the state and local area. Anonymous means names are not recorded by the testing site, and only the person being tested has access to the results. Confidential means a healthcare provider has access to the results, and the results may be recorded in a persons medical file at the testing site.
Talk to a healthcare provider about post-exposure prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Peoples actions can help stop the spread of the virus. Until someone is confident that theyre HIV-free, they should avoid sexual contact or use a condom during sex. Its also important to avoid sharing needles with others.
To find a nearby HIV testing site, visit GetTested.cdc.gov.
Can You Get Help Paying For Pep
- If youre prescribed PEP after a sexual assaultYou may qualify for partial or total reimbursement for medicines and clinical care costs through the Office for Victims of Crime, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice .
- If youre prescribed PEP for another reason and you cannot get insurance coverage Your health care provider can apply for free PEP medicines through the medication assistance programs run by the manufacturers. These requests can be handled urgently in many cases to avoid a delay in getting medicine.
- If youre a health care worker who was exposed to HIV on the jobYour workplace health insurance or workers compensation will usually pay for PEP.
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How Soon Can I Take An Hiv Test
This question usually refers to how soon after exposure can someone test for HIV.
This used to involve waiting 3 to 4 weeks before taking an HIV test .
However, 2020 UK guidelines now recommend waiting 6 weeks.
This is because 4th generation HIV tests will detect 99% of infections at 6 weeks compared to 95% of infections 4 weeks after exposure.
A negative test after four weeks needs to be confirmed with a second test three months after the risk. This is to cover the small chance that you take longer than four weeks to generate an antibody response.
Extending this to 6 weeks means the confirmatory test is no longer needed.
In high risk exposures, especially if symptoms occur, viral load testing is sometimes used after one week. This includes after a sexual assault or after a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker.
In these cases a viral load test can exclude an infection when there are symptoms.
Viral load tests are not approved to diagnose HIV. A negative result still needs to be confirmed by an antibody test three months after the risk.
Figure 6: Recommended time from exposure to HIV test *
* This diagram needs to be updated to show the six-week window.
Making Hiv Testing Routine
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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What Happens During An Hiv Test
You will either get a blood test in a lab, or do your own test at home.
For a blood test in a lab:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For at home test, you will need to get a sample of saliva from your mouth or a drop of blood from your fingertip.
- The test kit will provide instructions on how to get your sample, package it, and send it to a lab.
- For a saliva test, you will use special spatula-like tool to take a swab from your mouth.
- For a fingertip antibody blood test, you will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood.
For more information on at-home testing, talk to your health care provider.
Who Should Get Tested For Hiv
Roughly one in seven Americans who have HIV dont know they do. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 65 get tested at least once. If you are in a higher risk group, you should consider more frequent testing.
Even if you tested negative, you should get tested if you can answer yes to any of these questions about your activity since that test. Have you:
- Had sex with another man ?
- Had anal or vaginal sex with someone who is HIV-positive?
- Had more than one sex partner?
- Injected drugs with a shared needle?
- Received another STI diagnosis?
- Had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of these questions?
If you believe you may have had HIV exposure within the last 72 hours, talk to your healthcare provider. You may be able to get post-exposure prophylaxis — ie, medication. A PEP can prevent HIV when administered correctly. The sooner you begin to take it, the better, although it isnt 100% effective.
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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 prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking.
Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms. 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 of contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at high risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Per the recommendation, sexually active people are considered at high risk of HIV if they have one of the following characteristics:
- in a sexual relationship with someone who is living with HIV
- inconsistent condom use during sex with a partner whose HIV status is not known and who may be at high risk
- having a sexually transmitted infection , such as syphilis or gonorrhea within the past 6 months
- for men, inconsistent condom use during anal sex
What Does The Hiv Test Involve
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all people between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once for HIV. People with known risk factors should be tested yearly, or more frequently.
HIV tests are very accurate, but no test can detect the virus immediately after transmission. How soon a test can detect HIV depends on what the test is looking forantibodies, antigens, or the virus itself.
HIV testing uses a blood draw, a finger stick, or an oral swab. The type of sample used depends on the test.
These three types of diagnostic tests are used to detect HIV:
Antibody and antigen/antibody tests are typically used first because they are less expensive and easier to administer. They may also detect signs of HIV sooner. A NAT test may be used to confirm a positive result on an antibody or antigen/antibody test, or if these tests are negative and there is a strong suspicion for new HIV infection.
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