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.
Hiv Stigma And Discrimination
HIV can prompt intense feelings in people, regardless of their HIV status. It is sometimes viewed with a sense of unacceptability or disgrace. A person with HIV may feel shame and despair about their status. An HIV-negative person may be fearful or angry when they discover someone has HIV. The relationship of these feelings to HIV is referred to as stigma.Felt stigma refers to deep feelings of shame and self-loathing, and the expectation of discrimination. It can have serious negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV by discouraging them from getting tested, receiving support, or taking treatment. It may also lead people to engage in high-risk behaviours that harm their health, and contribute to new HIV infections.Enacted stigma is the experience of unfair treatment by others. For people living with HIV this can be in the form of being treated differently and poorly, or through rejection, abuse, or discrimination.HIV stigma is particularly harmful when it overlaps with other factors that are stigmatised such as if a person uses drugs, is a sex worker, is trans or gender diverse.Breaking down stigma is a community response where:
If you have experienced stigma or discrimination from a health care provider, and are unable to resolve your complaint with them directly, contact the Health Complaints Commissioner
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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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.
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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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.
How An Hiv Test Works
An HIV test is a blood test. It does not detect HIV itself, but looks for a protein found in an HIV cell, or an antibody made by the body to fight HIV.
HIV tests in the UK are very reliable. They can occasionally produce a positive result which is then found to be negative when tested again. This is called a false positive and is rare, occurring in less than 1 in 1000 cases.
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What Is The Next Step After Testing Positive For Hiv
Testing positive for HIV often leaves a person overwhelmed with questions and concerns. It is important to remember that HIV can be treated effectively with HIV medicines. Treatment with HIV medicines is recommended for everyone with HIV. HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
The first step after testing positive for HIV is to see a health care provider, even if you do not feel sick. Prompt medical care and treatment with HIV medicines as soon as possible is the best way to stay healthy.
Hiv Pre Exposure Prophylaxis
If you think you may come into contact with HIV, taking anti-HIV medication beforehand will stop you becoming infected.
For it to be effective¸ the medication, called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, can be taken in 2 ways:
- taken regularly
- taken when you know in advance that you’ll be having sex
This second method of taking the medication only when needed means taking two tablets 24 hours before sex, one tablet 24 hours after sex and another tablet 48 hours after sex.
If you take PrEP as recommended, it will protect you from HIV. If you take it incorrectly it may not work.
Although PrEP is effective in protecting you from HIV, it will not protect you from other STI’s like condoms would. If you’re taking PrEP via NHS Scotland, you need to have an HIV and STI test every three months.
You can ask about whether PrEP is right for you at sexual health clinics.
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Types Of Condomless Sex And Risk Of Hiv
During condomless sex, HIV in the bodily fluids of one person may be transmitted to the body of another person through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, and anus. In very rare cases, HIV could potentially be transmitted through a cut or sore in the mouth during oral sex.
Out of all types of condomless sex, HIV can most easily be transmitted during anal sex. This is because the lining of the anus is delicate and prone to damage, which may provide entry points for HIV.
Receptive anal sex, often called bottoming, poses more risk for contracting HIV than insertive anal sex, or topping.
HIV can also be transmitted during vaginal sex without a condom, although the vaginal lining is not as susceptible to rips and tears as the anus.
The risk of acquiring HIV from oral sex without using a condom or dental dam is very low. It would be possible for HIV to be transmitted if the person giving oral sex has mouth sores or bleeding gums, or if the person receiving oral sex has recently contracted HIV.
In addition to HIV, anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom or dental dam can also lead to transmission of other STIs.
What Is The Testing Process Like
You can also do home tests which are discreet and easy to use.
Many clinics offer finger-prick blood tests, but home testing kits vary. You may be directed to take a swab from your vagina or throat, give a urine sample, or give a finger-prick blood sample.
Dr Dutt assures that none of the tests should hurt and they should not take long to carry out. They can be done privately in your home or with a professional, depending on what’s comfortable for you.
Depending on the type of test, results can take a few minutes, or a few days to come back. If your first test is positive, a second blood test will need to be carried out to confirm the result.
If your test comes back positive, you’ll be referred to a specialist HIV clinic for some more tests and a discussion about your treatment options.
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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.
How Is Hiv Transmitted
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, one of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
- people who have had unprotected sex with somebody who has injected drugs
- people who have caught another sexually transmitted infection
- people who have received a blood transfusion while in Africa, eastern Europe, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Asia or central and southern America
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Can You Have Hiv For 20 Years And Not Know
While its common for people with HIV to experience symptoms similar to the flu after a few weeks of the initial infection, some people may experience no symptoms at all during the early stages of HIV.
If a person with HIV goes undiagnosed and the virus develops into stage 2, HIV will continue to develop and may last for 10-15 years without the appropriate HIV testing and treatment . Its important to note that this stage can also bring with it little to no symptoms and people may not even feel sick.
The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. This can be done by visiting your local HIV testing centre, your local doctor, or from home with an at-home lab test. Early detection is crucial to getting prompt treatment and going on to lead both a happy and healthy life.
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Getting Your Hiv Test Results
Most HIV test results are available within a week.
If the test result is negative, you may receive your results within a few days.
If the initial test result is positive, then additional testing to confirm the result needs to be performed in a reference laboratory and this can take up to a week to get a result.
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can An Hiv Test Detect If You Are Infected
No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis , right away.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.
Can You Test Too Early For Hiv
HIV can only be detected after an infection, not just after it has occurred. During the time lag between when HIV enters your body and when a test can detect the virus or the antibodies your immune system makes to fight it, there is a window period. It is possible for your results to be faulty if you are tested too soon.
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Calculating Life Expectancy With Hiv Or Aids
Recent research shows that a young person with HIV or AIDS could potentially live almost as long as anyone else in the general population. But this is only the case if they have routine access to health care and respond well to modern antiretroviral treatments . So a 20-year-old who starts on ARTs today, for example, might eventually live to be 67.
Keep in mind though, since there is no known cure, HIV life expectancy varies greatly from one individual to the next based on many things. This includes early detection plus, gender and lifestyle choices such as alcohol, tobacco, or drug use.
Over the past two decades, HIV life expectancy has drastically risen. What was once considered a terminal illness is now a medically manageable condition at any age. Those who abuse intravenous drugs or possess a preexisting immune disorder, however, do not fare as well.
In light of huge disparities in access to health care and ARTs, the CDC regularly publishes reports on obstacles to HIV and AIDS treatment. By 2016, it was estimated that 1.1 million people in the U.S., aged 13 or older, had HIV .
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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How Is A Rapid Hiv Blood Test Done
How is this test done? Rapid HIV testing is done with a sample of either blood or saliva. For a blood sample, a needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. For a saliva sample, your healthcare provider will rub a special swab against your gums. Does this test pose any risks? Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there any sure way to avoid acquiring HIV?
- What is the best treatment for me?
- How can I avoid getting any infections that will make me very sick?
- How can I find support groups in my community?
- What diagnostic tests will you run?
- How often will I need to see my doctor?
- Will there be any side effects to my treatment?
- How does this affect my plans for having a family?
- Is it safe for me to breastfeed my baby?
- Will using a condom keep my sex partners from acquiring HIV?
- Should I follow a special diet?
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Which Lab Tests Are Used To Make Decisions About Hiv Treatment
A health care provider reviews a persons lab test results to:
- Determine how far the persons HIV infection has advanced
The following lab tests are used to make decisions about HIV treatment.
A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. CD4 cells are infection-fighting cells of the immune system. As HIV advances, a persons CD4 count drops, which indicates increasing damage to the immune system. Treatment with HIV medicines prevents HIV from destroying CD4 cells.
A viral load test measures how much virus is in the blood . As HIV progresses to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a persons viral load increases. HIV medicines prevent HIV from multiplying, which reduces a persons viral load. A goal of HIV treatment is to keep a persons viral load so low that the virus cannot be detected by a viral load test. This is known as having an undetectable viral load.
Once HIV treatment is started, the CD4 count and viral load are used to monitor whether the HIV medicines are controlling a persons HIV.
Health care providers consider many factors when recommending HIV medicines, including a persons drug-resistance test results. Drug-resistance testing identifies which, if any, HIV medicines will not be effective against a persons strain of HIV. The HIVinfo infographic What do my lab results mean? has more information about tests used to monitor HIV infection and treatment.