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.
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
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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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 Hiv Prognosis If Not Treated
If untreated, HIV infection will progress to AIDS and the mortality rate is 90 percent. Though it cannot be cured, with appropriate treatment and precautions, patients can live up to a normal life expectancy .
The cause of death in HIV is usually due to serious complications from unusual opportunistic infections because of a weakened immune system or side effects of antiviral therapy.
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White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are a subset of cells produced in bone marrow whose primary role is to fight infection. A white blood cell count is one of the panel of tests included in the CBC that measures not only the total number of leukocytes but also the different types of white blood cells in a blood sample, namely:
Within the context of HIV, an elevated WBC typically means that your body is fighting an infection. Other tests can then be performed to pinpoint the cause.
An elevation of certain white blood cells may indicate a specific type of infection or an allergic inflammatory response. For example, higher than normal eosinophils may suggest a parasitic infection like toxoplasmosis, while elevated basophils can develop in people with a hypersensitive drug reaction.
A decrease in white blood cells may be the result of HIV medications , a minor viral infection, or a major opportunistic infection like tuberculosis.
CD4 T-cell lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that HIV preferentially targets and infects. For this reason, they serve as the primary marker of your immune status if you have HIV.
What Support Is Available
If you receive an HIV diagnosis, you can find help. Your healthcare provider can recommend support groups and counselors.
If someone tells you they are HIV-positive, they are telling you because they trust you. The time right after diagnosis can be very tough. You can support them in many ways:
- Be a friend. While they may not be ready to talk about their diagnosis right away, show them you care by treating them as you did before.
- Listen. Your friend may just need someone to listen to their concerns and fears. Be there for them.
- Learn about the disease. The reference section of this article has additional information to learn about the condition.
- Encourage them to seek treatment. Your friend may not realize they have options available. They do, and they can get treatment. Help them find it and stick to it.
- Get help for yourself. While it will be a challenging time for your friend, you may need some support too. Talk to others a counselor, for example about any concerns or anxieties you may have.
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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.
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
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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.
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.
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What Does This Mean For Me
For most people, the best time to test is 3 weeks after having unprotected sex with a new partner. If the test is negative, there is a good chance you do not have HIV from that sexual contact.
If you test at 6 weeks after having unprotected sex with a new partner, and that test is negative, there is a 99% chance you do not have HIV from that sexual exposure.
With any HIV test, you should test again at 3 months to be sure.
Because HIV and other sexually transmitted infection rates are high in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, routine screening every 3 months is recommended.
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What Is It Used For
An HIV test is used to find out if you have been infected with HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . Most people with HIV don’t have AIDS. People with AIDS have an extremely low number of immune cells and are at risk for life-threatening illnesses, including dangerous infections, a severe type of pneumonia, and certain cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.
If HIV is found early, you can get medicines to protect your immune system. HIV medicines may prevent you from getting AIDS.
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To 28 Days After Exposure
The exception: a symptom called lymphadenopathy, the sometimes painful swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, behind the ears, under the armpits, or in the upper groin region. Even when the other symptoms have disappeared, lymphadenopathy may continue for months or even longer.
âThe important thing to remember is that the resolution of symptoms does not mean the infection is gone,â says Dennis Sifris, MD, an HIV specialist with the Lifesense Disease Management Group, located in South Africa. âHIV is not like hepatitis, which can spontaneously clear. HIV is forever and is better treated sooner rather than later.â
The Healthcare Worker There To Help You
Before you test, your healthcare worker will talk to you about your sexual health and why youve decided to test. This is to help them understand your situation so they can offer you the best services and advice.
Remember, the healthcare professional is not there to judge you. There will be nothing you can say that they havent heard before so be honest with them, and ask as many questions as you want. Thats what theyre there for.
You should never feel pressured to test. The results will be completely confidential but you should only go through with it if you want to.
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How Are Results Reported
Your test centre should clearly explain the results of your test.
If you have questions that were not explained, or that still worry you, ask the test centre first.
Rapid blood tests show two lines if positive or one line if negative, in a similar way as a pregnancy test .
Results from laboratory tests are given as negative, positive or indeterminate.
Negative or non-reactive means you are HIV negative. You do not have HIV .
Positive or reactive means the test shows you are HIV positive and you have HIV infection.
Indeterminate means the test result was unclear and needs to be repeated.
How Long Do I Need To Wait Before I Test
Thereâs a window period between exposure to HIV and a positive test because it takes time for your body to either build a response to the infection or for the virus to replicate enough for a test to detect it. HIV window periods can vary.
For example, if you have unprotected sex on a Friday night, and get an HIV test Monday morning, the test wonât be able to detect HIV or an immune response to HIV yet. There hasnât been enough time for a positive result, even if the virus is in your body.
To get the earliest, most accurate result, first consider when you were exposed and whether youâre showing symptoms.
- If you know exactly when you may have come into contact with the virus, take a test 3 months after that date. Tests 3 months after exposure should be 99% accurate.
- If you are having symptoms of HIV, see your doctor right away. Your doctor may want to use a test that can look for the virus directly in your body.
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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.
A Word About Window Periods
The window period refers to the time it takes for HIV to show up in an HIV test. The length of the window period will depend on the type of test you take.
If you feel like you may be at risk of HIV, do not wait, speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. The most important thing is to test.
If you test negative but think you may have been exposed to HIV more recently, you can take another test once the window period has passed.
The picture below shows the window periods for different HIV tests. Some tests can give you an accurate result within four weeks, while others can take three months to be accurate .
A healthcare worker will be able to explain how long the window period is for the test you are taking, and will tell you if they think youll need to test for HIV again.
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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.
What Is Acute Hiv Infection
There are three stages of HIV infection:
- Stage 1:Acute HIVinfection
- Stage 2:Chronic HIV infection
- Stage 3:AIDS
Acute HIV infection is the first stage of the infection. Usually within two to four weeks of infection, two-thirds of those with HIV will experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms may last for several days or even weeks. However, some people may experience no symptoms at all.
In this stage, there is a large amount of HIV in your blood, which is known as the viral load. Studies have noted incredibly high viral loads during the acute stage, meaning you are more contagious at this time.
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