When Should You Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it’s important to seek medical advice and to get tested as soon as possible.
Dr Dutt stresses that the only way to find out if you have HIV is to get tested, and an early diagnosis means you can access treatment sooner. This in turn can dramatically reduce your risk of becoming severely ill and passing the virus on to others.
If you start taking post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, you may be able to prevent infection altogether. PEP involves taking HIV treatment every day for one month.
There is also PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis – a daily pill that can protect you from HIV. With this medication, you can have a normal sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner with reduced fear of becoming infected yourself.
Regardless of whether you test negative or positive, you may need to repeat the test between one and three months of being exposed to HIV, but you shouldn’t wait this long to seek treatment.
Putting off getting tested and leaving HIV untreated can cause you to develop AIDS, which may lead to death.
How do you know if you have HIV?
What Are The Signs Of An Hiv Infection
Fever is usually the first sign of an HIV infection. Many people also experience other flu-like symptoms as the disease manifests itself two to four weeks after exposure. This early, acute phase of HIV can last up to several weeks. Some of the other possible signs of the infection include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
Knowing you have HIV is almost impossible without a test. Thats because the disease can masquerade as other illnesses and sometimes may not have symptoms at all at first. At least 13% of people with HIV dont even know they have the virus. This makes it much more likely that they will spread the disease to others. If youve had unprotected sex recently, the only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.
How Long Does An Hiv Test Take
How long does it take to get results from an HIV test?
Waiting for test results can certainly be stressful â and while the past few decades of research on human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome have made great advances in testing technology, it’s tough to give an exact estimate of how long it takes to get test results. There are many factors to consider, including: the type of HIV test completed, how long it takes for a particular community health center or lab to analyze and report the test result to the patient, and how long someone has waited to get tested after an exposure . Also, sometimes the results must go through a health care provider first, who will then relay them to the patient, which can take more time. The good news is that many testing options are fairly quick. While the most rigorous lab-based tests can take several days to produce a result, some rapid tests can take as little as 20 minutes.
In general, the turn around time for HIV testing depends on the type of testing performed. These tests include:
- NAT: 10 to 33 days after exposure
- Laboratory antigen/antibody test: 18 to 45 days after exposure
- Rapid antigen/antibody test and antibody self-test: 18 to 90 days after exposure
Hereâs hoping you didnât have to wait long to get results from this response!
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How Is Hiv Transmitted Or Spread
The following are the means by which the HIV virus is spread:
Vertical transmission. HIV can be spread to babies born to, or breastfed by, mothers infected with the virus.
Sexual contact. In adults and adolescents, HIV is spread most commonly by sexual contact with an infected partner. The virus enters the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or abraded or irritated tissues in the lining of the mouth through sexual activity.
Blood contamination. HIV may also be spread through contact with infected blood. However, due to the screening of donated blood for evidence of HIV infection, the risk of acquiring HIV from blood transfusions is extremely low.
Needles. HIV is frequently spread by sharing needles, syringes, or drug use equipment with someone who is infected with the virus. Transmission from patient to health care worker, or vice-versa, through accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments, is rare.
No known cases of HIV/AIDS have been spread by the following:
Enlarged lymph nodes
An HIV-infected child is usually diagnosed with AIDS when the immune system becomes severely damaged or other types of infections occur. As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to develop. The following are some common complications, or symptoms, of the onset of AIDS. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Get Treated To Prevent Symptoms
The symptoms and illnesses described above are likely the result of advanced HIV, which means that the virus has been growing unchecked in your body for months to years.
If youâre not on ART or youâre not taking it exactly as youâre supposed to, now is the time to start taking it correctly. These medications will lower the amount of the virus in your blood so your immune system can recover. Even people with uncontrolled HIV can get the right treatment and go on to live a healthy life. Make sure to follow your doctorâs advice regarding your HIV medicine and other medicines prescribed for your specific conditions.
You may need to change your meds if you canât stand the side effects or if theyâre not controlling your disease well. But donât stop taking them before you talk to your doctor.
Gary Sinclair, MD, HIV/AIDS specialist in Dallas.
Averting AIDS and HIV: âSymptoms and Stages of HIV Infection,â âTuberculosis and HIV Co-infection.â
AIDS.gov: âViral Load,â âHIV Lifecycle,â âChanging or Stopping Treatment.â
U.S Department of Veterans Affairs: âCD4 counts and infections,â âHIV Wasting Syndrome.”
NAM AIDSMap: âFact Sheet: Unintentional Weight Loss,â “Fact Sheet: Skin Problems,â âCough.â
American Academy of Dermatology: âMolluscum Contagiosum.â
The Mayo Clinic: âHIV/AIDS Symptoms.â
CDC: âShingles ,â âPneumocystis pneumonia.â
International Hyperhidrosis Society: âNight Sweats.â
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What Is An Hiv Test
A confidential HIV test can be performed by your doctor. There are three types of tests that look at your bodily fluids to check for signs of HIV: nucleic acid tests , antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
- NAT tests require drawing your blood to look for both the presence of HIV and how much of the virus is present, known as your viral load. The benefit of a NAT test is that it can detect HIV earlier than other types of tests. The downside is that these tests are very expensive. Typically, we use this test if youre exhibiting HIV infection symptoms or if youve had a high risk of exposure to the virus.
- Antigen/Antibody tests also draw blood, although there is a rapid test that requires a finger stick. This type of testing searches for antibodies that are produced in the blood by your immune system to fight the HIV invading cells. If HIV is in your body, you will produce an antigen called p24. The test looks for p24 as well as the antibodies that signal your body is fighting the infection.
- HIV Antibody tests just look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluids. These tests also require blood to be drawn from a vein.
The time for receiving test results spans several days to less than a few hours. Talk with your doctor about what type of test is right for you.
Symptoms And Stages Of Hiv Infection
- There are three stages of HIV infection. The symptoms vary in type and severity from person-to-person.
- Stage 1 after initial infection can feel like flu but not everyone will experience this.
- Stage 2 is when many people start to feel better and may last for 10 years or more. During this time a person may have no symptoms.
- Stage 3 is when a persons immune system is very badly damaged and can no longer fight off serious infections and illnesses.
- The earlier a person is diagnosed with HIV and starts treatment, the better their health will be over time.
- Some people dont get any symptoms during stages 1 and 2, and may not know they have the virus, but they can still pass on HIV.
The signs of HIV infection can vary in type and severity from person-to-person, and some people may not have any symptoms for many years.
The stages below describe how HIV infection progresses in the body if it is left untreated. Without antiretroviral treatment for HIV, the virus replicates in the body and causes more and more damage to the immune system.
However with effective treatment, you can keep the virus under control and stop it from progressing. This is why its important to start treatment as soon as possible after testing positive.
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Causes Of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes have immune cells called lymphocytes in them. They attack bacteria, viruses, and other things that can make you sick. When you’re fighting off harmful germs, your body makes more of those immune cells — that causes the swelling.
Your lymph nodes come across all kinds of germs, so they can be swollen for lots of reasons. Usually, it’s something that’s relatively easy to treat, like:
- A virus, like a cold
- A bacterial infection, like an ear infection, skin infection, or infected tooth
Much less often, it can be a more serious illness. They can include:
- Tuberculosis, an infection that usually affects your lungs
- Lyme disease, an infection spread through a tick bite
- A problem with your immune system, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- HIV/AIDS, an infection spread through sexual contact and IV drug use
- Certain kinds of cancer, including:
- Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system
- Leukemia, a cancer of the blood
How Is Hiv Diagnosed
Diagnosis of HIV infection during infancy depends on the detection of the virus. Since all infants born to HIV-infected mothers have a positive antibody test at birth because of the passive transfer of the HIV antibody across the placenta, virological testing is used to confirm the diagnosis.
For infants born to HIV-infected mothers, viral diagnostic testing is usually performed within the first 2 days of life, at 1 to 2 months of age, and at 4 to 6 months of age. A diagnosis of HIV infection can be made with two positive virologic tests obtained from different blood samples.
For children over 18 months, adolescents, or adults, diagnosis is made by testing the blood for the presence of HIV antibody.
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Is There A Cure For Hiv
There is no cure for HIV. But if you acquire the virus, there are drugs that help suppress the level of HIV in the body and prevent its spread to other people. Doctors use a combination of drugs called HAART to treat HIV/AIDS. Although it is not a cure, HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths from HIV-related complications in the United States. HIV has become like a chronic disease, and people living with HIV receiving successful treatment can live a long and healthy life.
What Are The Tests For Detecting Hiv
Various tests may be used for HIV detection:
- HIV antibody test: This test detects the antibodies produced in the body in response to HIV.
- Antigen test: This test can be done at an earlier stage than an HIV antibody test. It measures a protein called p24 antigen, present in the virus and produced in high amounts after the infection.
- Nucleic acid test : It is also called an RNA test. It is a very specific test that looks for the virus itself and can detect HIV as early as about 10 days of infections.
- In-home test kits: Although less accurate than the laboratory-based tests, home-based kits have the advantage of testing in the privacy and comfort of the home. Only FDA approved home-based kits should be used.
- Viral culture: This involves using the patients sample and growing the virus in the lab. It takes longer to get the results and is not the most preferred test for HIV.
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Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a condom every time they have sex
- get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too
- reduce their number of sexual partners
- get tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
- consider taking a medicine every day if they are at very high risk of getting infected
- Do not inject drugs or share any kind of needle.
- Do not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood.
- Do not touch anyone else’s blood from a cut or sore.
Stage : The Asymptomatic Stage
Once a person has been through the acute primary infection stage and seroconversion process, they can often start to feel better. In fact, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for up to 10 or even 15 years .
However, the virus will still be active, infecting new cells and making copies of itself. HIV can still be passed on during this stage. If left untreated, over time, HIV infection will cause severe damage to the immune system.
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Sharing Needles And Injecting Equipment
If you inject drugs, you shouldn’t share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment such as spoons and swabs as this could expose you to HIV and other viruses found in the blood, such as hepatitis C.
Many local authorities and pharmacies offer needle exchange programmes, where used needles can be exchanged for clean ones.
A GP or drug counsellor should be able to advise you about free injecting equipment provision including needles.
If you are having a tattoo or piercing, it’s important that a clean, sterilised needle is always used.
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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Aids Or Hiv Life Expectancy Without Medication
How long can you live with HIV or AIDS if you chose not to treat with ART combinations or other prescription drugs? In the absence of such therapy, a patient should expect to see a notable decrease in life expectancy.
In countries where health care and ARTs arent readily accessible, HIV rates are above 20 percent. Shorter HIV life expectancy in these regions, combined with a high incidence of AIDS in younger age groups, boosts their overall mortality rate.
Population studies proved that AIDS patients who did not take HIV medications survived for roughly three years. Once they developed a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy with AIDS decreased to one year or less.
Thats why HIV and AIDS remain a serious threat to public health, and why early detection is absolutely critical to long-term survival.
What Should I Do If I Think I Could Have Hiv
Only an HIV test can tell you whether you have HIV.
Try not to guess based on any symptoms you may or may not have, or on the HIV status of a person you have had sex with.
If you test, tell whoever tests you if youve recently taken risks or had symptoms similar to seroconversion illness, as this will affect the kind of HIV test you should have.
To be on the safe side, and until you know your test result, use condoms to protect anyone you have sex with.
You can also call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.
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Can You Still Live A Healthy Life With Hiv
Thanks to advances in research and medicine, medication is available that allows you to manage an HIV diagnosis on a daily basis.
“Antiretroviral medicines come in the form of daily tablets that work by stopping the virus from replicating inside your body. This allows your immune system to repair itself and prevent further damage. That said, HIV can easily become resistant to a single form of medication, which is why most HIV-positive people take a combination of medications,” says Dr Dutt.
Without treatment, your immune system can become extremely damaged. This makes you more susceptible to life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and other severe infections.
“However, someone with HIV who is taking effective treatment can definitely live a healthy life,” Dr Dutt says.
“The goal of medication is to get the level of the virus in your body so low that it’s undetectable by a test. With effective treatment, you will also significantly reduce your risk of passing HIV on to others.”
In fact, if your virus levels are undetectable on treatment, there is no risk of passing on the virus through sex – as the undetectable = untransmittable campaign has sought to highlight.
HIV is a long-term illness and it can affect your life. Dr Dutt explains how those with HIV cannot donate blood or organs, join the armed forces, or visit certain countries. You may also struggle getting life insurance to cover a mortgage loan .