What To Expect With Hiv Testing
For a lab test, you might need to call your doctor to schedule it. Some public health- clinics take walk-ins.
A technician will take a small blood sample and send it to a lab. Some immunoassay tests check your urine or fluids from your mouth , but there aren’t as many antibodies in these, so you may get false negatives.
With home blood tests, you prick your finger to get a small blood sample that you send to a lab. You call to get your result, and you don’t have to give your name. If it’s positive, the lab will also do a follow-up test to double-check.
With home oral fluid tests, you swab your upper and lower gums and test the sample in a vial. About 1 in 12 people who are infected get a false negative from this test. If itâs positive, get a lab test to confirm.
How long does it take to get HIV results? This depends on what kind of test you had. Rapid tests provide answers in less than a half-hour. With a standard blood test or antibody/antigen test, you should expect results in a few days. It may take several days to get results from an NAT test. Urine test results could take up to 2 weeks.
Outlook For A Person Who Has Hiv
When the first descriptions of what we now know to be HIV came out in 1981, the outlook was direand nowhere near what it is today.
However, only people who get consistent treatment, respond positively to medication, and have healthy lifestyle habits live to be over 70. Therefore, once you start taking combination antiretroviral therapies, you can expect to live a relatively long and healthy life.
For example, one 2017 study found that a person who receives an HIV diagnosis at age 20 and lives in a high-income country like America can add another 43.3 years to their overall life expectancy. However, with a late diagnosis and no treatment, HIV can cause chronic damage to your immune system and cause an early death.
Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
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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.
How Long Do I Need To Wait After Exposure To Hiv Before I Can Test
It takes a bit of time for HIV to show up in an HIV test â this is called the window period. The length of the window period will depend on the type of test you take. For some tests it is up to three months and for other tests it is one month.
Read more about window periods in the âIn detailâ tab.
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How Is Hiv Diagnosed
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved tests that detect HIV antibodies in urine, fluid from the mouth , or blood. If a test on urine or oral fluid shows that you are infected with HIV, you will probably need a blood test to confirm the results. If you have been exposed to HIV, your immune system will make antibodies to try to destroy the virus. Blood tests can find these antibodies in your blood.
Most doctors use a screening blood test. If the screening is positive , the blood sample is tested again to verify the result. If the second test is positive, a test called a Western blot is performed for further confirmation.
It may take as long as six months for HIV antibodies to show up in a blood sample. If you think you have been exposed to HIV but you test negative for it:
- Get tested again in six months to be sure you are not infected.
- Meanwhile, take steps to prevent the spread of the virus. If you are infected, you can still pass HIV to another person at this time.
Some people are afraid to be tested for HIV. But if there is any chance you could be infected, it is very important to find out. HIV can be treated. Getting early treatment can slow down the virus and help you stay healthy. And you need to know if you are infected so you can prevent spreading the infection to other people.
Hiv Tests For Screening And Diagnosis
HIV tests are very accurate, but no test can detect the virus immediately after infection. How soon a test can detect HIV depends on the type of test being used. There are three types of HIV tests: antibody tests, antigen/antibody tests, and nucleic acid tests .
An initial HIV test usually will either be an antigen/antibody test or an antibody test. If the initial HIV test is a rapid or self-test and it is positive, the person should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. If the initial HIV test is a lab test and it is positive, the lab will usually conduct follow-up testing on the same blood sample as the initial test. Although HIV tests are generally accurate, follow-up tests allow the health care provider to confirm the result.
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Dried Blood Spot Test
A DBS test is a free, accurate and convenient way to test for HIV in the comfort and privacy of your home.
It involves collecting a few drops of blood from your finger and allowing the blood to dry on a test card. You then send the card away to get tested and wait around a week to get the result back. You can register for a DBS HIV test here.
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How Soon Can A Blood Test Detect Hiv
The window period is when a person is first exposed to HIV and when the virus will show up on types of HIV blood tests.
The window period can last 10 to 90 days, depending on their bodys immune response and the type of test that theyre taking.
A person may receive a negative test result during the window period even though theyve contracted HIV.
A person can still transmit HIV to others during this window period. Transmission may even be more likely because there are higher virus levels in a persons body during the window period.
Heres a quick breakdown of the types of HIV tests and the window periods for each.
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How Does Hiv Testing Work
First, its important to understand the basics of HIV testing. HIV is a virus, so it is detected through an antibody test. The virus can be detected in as little as 2 weeks after exposure with up to a 99% accuracy rating.
There are several types of HIV tests that doctors give out, depending on the estimated time between exposure. Most tests have the highest accuracy when they are given 3 months after exposure. 3rd generation antibody tests are the most common and require a blood sample that is tested at a lab. 4th generation antibody/antigen tests can detect HIV within just 1 month of exposure. Results from these tests take a few days to a few weeks, but they are highly accurate.
Rapid tests are also available for faster results within just 20 minutes. However, the accuracy rating for rapid tests is lower, so a doctor may recommend a second test if the results are positive.
Normally, a doctor will draw a sample of blood for testing, sometimes it is done through saliva or urine testing. The cost of this type of test is typically covered by insurance. Many healthcare and STD clinics offer free or discounted testing services.
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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How Long Does It Take For Hiv Symptoms To Show
A short, flu-like illness is usually the only symptom of HIV, two to six weeks after infection. About 80% of people with HIV experience this. If youre having these symptoms, and theres a chance you couldve been exposed to HIV in recent weeks, its a good idea to get tested.
The most common symptoms of this illness are:
Other symptoms include aches and pains, swollen glands, and feeling very tired. After these symptoms pass its possible to go years without experiencing any symptoms.
Reasons For The Improved Life Expectancy
With the advancement of antiretroviral therapies and other medications such as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis , the spread of HIV has slowed but not stopped.
Taking a combination of HIV meds can also slow the stages of the disease and prevent HIV from turning into AIDS. You can learn about the stages of HIV infection by reading this post from our Rapid STD Testing blog.
PrEP: If youre currently HIV-negative but have high-risk factors , you can take PrEP. It can prevent the virus from forming an infection in your body.
PEP: If youre HIV-negative but have had a single high-risk sexual exposure, you can take PEP to stop the virus from establishing an infection in your body. However, you must take PEP within 72 hours of exposure and continue the treatment for four weeks.
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When You Should Take An Hiv Test
What testing service you should use, and which type of test, depends on when you might have been exposed to HIV. Signs of HIV infection dont show up in the blood right away. It normally happens within four weeks of infection, but can be longer.
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours , its possible to take post-exposure prophylaxis to help stop an infection from happening.
If your risk was recent, then your test provider will probably advise you to take a test immediately, followed by a second one a few weeks later. The second test will pick up any infection the first one may have missed.
If your risk was in the last three months, make sure you tell the person testing you, as it may affect the type of test youre given.
A self test is not guaranteed to pick up an infection thats occurred in the previous three months. If you think youve been exposed in the last three months, you should get a test in person.
Very occasionally it can take up to three months for antibodies to appear in the blood, so an HIV negative result is only totally accurate if three months have passed between the test and the last time a risk was taken. However, a negative result four to eight weeks after taking a risk is a very good sign that HIV infection hasnt happened.
Where To Get Tested
Where you get tested for HIV depends on whatâs available in your area, how much you can spend, and your preferences. Among the places that offer testing are:
- Health clinics and community health centers
- County health departments
- STD and sexual health clinics
- Family planning clinics
- Substance abuse treatment and prevention programs
- LGBTQ+ health centers
- Private doctorsâ offices
Testing through local health departments and college health centers is often free. Some nonprofits also offer free or low-cost testing.
If you test positive, these organizations can help you get treatment. If you test negative, they can tell you about ways to prevent HIV infection.
At-home testing kits are available online and at pharmacies without a prescription. They generally offer you access to telephone counseling before and after testing.
To find out where you can get tested, check hiv.gov or gettested.cdc.gov, or call 800-CDC-INFO .
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How Effective Are Home Hiv Tests
There are some concerns regarding the accuracy of an at-home HIV test. One study compared the results of the two types and concluded that tests given by a healthcare professional were 99.3% accurate, whereas self-administered tests were 92.9% accurate.
The OraQuick At-Home HIV test has been approved by the FDA, as it meets their standards for accuracy. However,evidence shows that about 1 in 5,000 of these tests resulted in a false-positive, and 1 in 12 were false negatives.
Generally speaking, an at-home HIV test is considered to be about as accurate as a rapid test at the doctors office if it is conducted correctly. However, they are slightly less accurate than a 3rd or 4th generation antibody test.
One reason that the test results from at-home HIV tests may not be entirely reliable is due to the testing process. You would need to follow the instructions perfectly to ensure an accurate result. There are far more variables when it comes to at-home testing compared to a healthcare clinic. If you miss a step or accidentally compromise the sample, you could have a false result.
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.
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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.
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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What Is Usually The First Sign Of Hiv
- Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes are a part of the bodys immune system that helps get rid of bacteria and viruses. An HIV infection, like many other infections, can cause the inflammation of lymph nodes, which can be felt as round or nodular swellings in the armpit, groin, and neck. The swelling is often associated with aches and pains in these areas.