Who Should Get An Hiv Test
The CDC recommends that everyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.
You should be tested more often — at least once a year — if youâre at higher risk of getting HIV, including if you:
- Have had several sexual partners
- Had unprotected sex with someone who is or could be HIV-positive, including someone whose sexual history you don’t know
- Injected drugs with a needle, syringe, or other device that someone else used first
- Have had or are getting tested for tuberculosis, hepatitis, or any sexually transmitted disease, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes
- Have had sex for drugs or money
- Had sex with someone who has a history of any of these
How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms Of Hiv
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks your bodys immune system. Left untreated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . Early diagnosis is key to slowing down disease progression.
Symptoms may vary from person to person, but knowing the early symptoms that could present can help you get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
This article will discuss the various stages of HIV, how symptoms may present, how testing works, and what to expect if you test positive for the virus.
Verywell / Danie Drankwalter
Appendix D: Natural History Of Hiv Infection
Human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that infects the cells of the immune system. It is transmitted via exposure to body fluids that contain lymphocytes or free infectious viral particles . The routes of infection are: unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of injection-drug use equipment and from an HIV-infected mother to her unborn child. Although rare, HIV can also be transmitted through an occupational exposure such as a needlestick injury or other event where blood to blood exposure could occur. All blood and blood products used in Canadian healthcare settings now undergo extensive screening for HIV prior to use, so new infections related to their use have been virtually eliminated .
The virus can enter the body through unprotected mucous membranes where cells may become infected with HIV . The presence of a sexually transmitted infection can enhance HIV transmission because of lesions and/or an increased number of lymphocytes. Using a needle contaminated with HIV-infected blood deposits the virus directly into the blood system, where infection of lymphocytes will occur. Transmission from mother to child can take place in utero, during delivery through exposure to the mother’s blood or vaginal secretions, and through breast milk . Seroconversion occurs when an individual changes from being HIV antibody negative to HIV antibody positive.
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Getting Your Test Results
If your blood is sent to the Public Health Lab it will take approximately 2-3 weeks for your test results to come back. You can call the clinic 2 weeks after your test to get the results.If Your Test is Negative
- It means you didnt have HIV antibodies in your blood at the time of your test
- If its been 3 months after your last exposure and your test is negative, you dont have HIV
- If its been less than 3 months you should be re-tested, ensuring safer-sex and needle sharing practices until the time of your next test.
If Your Test is Positive
- A positive test means you have antibodies for HIV.
- It does NOT automatically mean that you have AIDS.
Hiv Testing And Your Rights
Testing for HIV is voluntary and can only be done with your informed consent, except in exceptional circumstances.
Before you are tested, you will be provided with information about what is involved. what the results might mean for you, and how to prevent HIV transmission in the future. All people who request an HIV test must receive this information from the test provider.
Under Australian and Victorian law, it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone who has HIV. Test results, and details on whether someone has been tested are strictly confidential. It is illegal for any information about a person being tested or a person with HIV to be disclosed without their permission.
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What If I Am Pregnant Is My Baby Going To Get Hiv Too
If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can take medication during pregnancy to prevent her baby from becoming infected. After birth, the baby will be given medicine for the first six weeks of life to make sure he or she is not infected. HIV-exposed babies should receive medical care from a HIV doctor until it is certain that the baby is not infected. HIV-infected women should not breastfeed in order to prevent transmitting the infection to infants.
What Happens When You Go For A Test
Normally, testing involves taking a small sample of blood from your finger or your arm, or an oral swab. This is where you rub the testing pen along your gums to collect cells from your mouth.
How long it takes for HIV test results to come back will depend on the type of test you are taking. If youre taking a rapid test, you will be given your results within 20 minutes. Other types of tests will be sent to a laboratory and it may take between a few days and a few weeks for you to receive a final result.
Tests these days are very reliable, but if your result comes back positive, you should have a second confirmatory test to double check your result. If this is also positive, you will get an HIV diagnosis, after which you can start treatment.
Remember, HIV treatment these days is very effective and people with HIV can live long and healthy lives just like anyone else.
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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.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Hiv Testing
The world has come a long way from when the AIDS epidemic hit in the late 1980s. Researchers are working tirelessly to find treatments.
Unfortunately, many people still dont understand much about HIV. Because of this, legislation exists to protect people living with HIV and AIDS. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with HIV from discrimination. If you believe someone has discriminated against you because of your HIV status, you may wish to consult legal counsel.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Research has made significant progress in terms of what we know about HIV. But there is still more to learn. Until researchers find a vaccine, HIV will continue to infect people. If you or someone you love may be HIV positive, please seek help. Current treatments can help HIV-positive people live happy, productive lives.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/10/2016.
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Recommendations For Hiv Testing
The purpose of this chapter is to make recommendations on who should be tested for HIV, and at what interval. The chapter also presents recommendations for increasing opportunities to offer HIV testing by integrating HIV testing with testing services for related infections and explores other possible occasions that evidence suggests may be effective in identifying undiagnosed cases. Additional provider and client resources, other HIV testing guidelines, and guidelines for HIV testing in specific contexts are provided in Chapter Five.
Will Other People Know Your Test Result
If you take an anonymous test, no one but you will know the result. If you take a confidential test, your test result will be part of your medical record, but it will still be protected by state and federal privacy laws. Most HIV testing is done confidentially.
- Anonymous testing means that nothing ties your test results to you. When you take an anonymous HIV test, you get a unique identifier that allows you to get your test results. Anonymous tests are not available at every place that provides HIV testing. You can purchase a self-test if you want to test anonymously.
- Confidential testing means that your name and other identifying information will be attached to your test results. The results will go in your medical record and may be shared with your health care providers and your health insurance company. Otherwise, the results are protected by state and federal privacy laws, and they can be released only with your permission.
With confidential testing, if you test positive for HIV, the test result and your name will be reported to the state or local health department to help public health officials get better estimates of the rates of HIV in the state. The state health department will then remove all personal information about you and share the remaining non-identifying information with CDC. CDC does not share this information with anyone else, including insurance companies.
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Why Do I Need An Hiv Test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. You may also need an HIV test if you are at higher risk for infection. HIV is mainly spread through sexual contact and blood, so you may be at a higher risk for HIV if you:
- Are a man that has had sex with another man
- Have had sex with an HIV-infected partner
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have injected drugs, such as heroin, or shared drug needles with someone else
HIV can spread from mother to child during birth and through breast milk, so if you are pregnant your doctor may order an HIV test. There are medicines you can take during pregnancy and delivery to greatly reduce your risk of spreading the disease to your baby.
Is Hiv Testing Confidential
If you test positive for HIV, your status becomes part of your private medical record and is protected by federal privacy laws. Your state may require your healthcare provider to report the infection to your state health department. State departments send results to the CDC without your personal identifiable information.
Some states have laws that require you or your healthcare provider to notify your partner of your HIV-positive status. In some states, if you dont report your status to your partner, you can be charged with a crime.
You can choose anonymous testing. Anonymous tests dont link the results to your information. The state health department still collects the statistics, but the results arent part of your medical record.
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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.
How Is Hiv Treated
Australians can live well with HIV. Treatments have changed over time, dramatically improving the quality and length of life for someone who is HIV positive.
It is also important to have a strong support network. Evidence suggests that involving others can improve your mental health and wellbeing and help you maintain treatment.
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What Happens If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your initial test is positive for HIV antibodies, then additional testing is required to confirm that the first one was accurate. Sometimes this involves a second blood test.
When you are first diagnosed you will probably experience strong emotions. During this time, do not try to cope on your own. Seek support by speaking with your doctor, or contact your local community organisation. They have trained peer workers available to help you through the initial stages of a positive diagnosis, but also through your journey of living well with HIV.
Part of testing best practice includes pre- and post-test counselling. Post-test counselling is important, regardless of the outcome. If you test positive, counselling can provide emotional support, further information about living with HIV, and referrals to support services.
If the test is negative, counselling can provide education about HIV and how to reduce your HIV risk in the future. are community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with HIV. Peer workers are also available to help you navigate living with HIV.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, visit Next Steps for more information.
Appendix A: Ethical And Professional Considerations
Policy concerning the ethical and professional roles and responsibilities of care providers is informed by the providers’ respective institutional code of ethics as well as the professional colleges under which they are governed.
The following is designed to complement, not supersede, existing codes of conduct or jurisdictional health policies and regulations or any applicable laws and regulations of the jurisdiction.
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How Do The Tests Work
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others use saliva , but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.
How The Test Is Performed
The test requires the user to swab their gums to collect an oral fluid sample and use the materials in the kit to test the sample. The user must follow the test manufacturer’s instructions, which comes with the kit, to ensure an accurate test. A phone number is also included with the HIV self-test for anyone to call to get help with conducting the test. OraQuick’s website also has a step-by-step video to guide users through the test.
Users should not eat, drink, or use oral care products before starting the test. They should put the test stick they swabbed their gums with into the test tube provided by the kit. Wait 20 minutes, and one line will appear on the test stick if you are negative. If two lines appear, that means HIV antibodies have been detected.
Its important to take a follow-up test at a medical office to confirm the results.
OraQuick is an antibody test, and it takes 23 to 90 days after an exposure for antibody tests to detect HIV.
The expected performance of the test is 92% test sensitivity, according to the OraQuick package. The FDA explains that this equates to one false-negative result out of every 12 test results in people who are HIV-positive. Clinical studies have found that OraQuick produces one false-positive out of every 5,000 tests. This is why its important to take another test at a medical office to confirm the diagnosis.
Autoimmune diseases like lupus may interfere with the results, and may incorrectly produce a false-positive.
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.