What Is An Hiv Test
An HIV test shows whether you are infected with HIV . HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys cells in the immune system. These cells protect your body against disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses. If you lose too many immune cells, your body will have trouble fighting off infections and other diseases.
There are three main types of HIV tests:
- Antibody Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies in your blood or saliva. Your immune system makes antibodies when you are exposed to bacteria or viruses, like HIV. An HIV antibody test can determine if you have HIV from 312 weeks after infection. That’s because it can take a few weeks or longer for your immune system to make antibodies to HIV. You may be able to do an HIV antibody test in the privacy of your home. Ask your health care provider about at-home HIV test kits.
- HIV Antibody/Antigen Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood. An antigen is a part of a virus that triggers an immune response. If you’ve been exposed to HIV, antigens will show up in your blood before HIV antibodies are made. This test can usually find HIV within 26 weeks of infection. The HIV antibody/antigen test is one of the most common types of HIV tests.
- HIV Viral Load. This test measures the amount of the HIV virus in the blood. It can find HIV faster than antibody and antibody/antigen tests, but it is very expensive. It is mostly used for monitoring HIV infections.
Hiv Testing At Options Clinic Or At Other Anonymous Testing Clinics:
Options provides anonymous testing with results on the spot. This is called rapid point-of-care testing.
- You dont need your health card.
- You dont have to give your real name. This is what anonymous means.
- A small amount of blood will be taken by pricking your finger the test is quick and convenient
- If the rapid point-of-care test shows a positive result, meaning that it detects HIV antibodies, the clinician at Options will take more blood to send off to a laboratory to confirm the result. It takes about two weeks for that result to come in.
What is the HIV antibody test?
The HIV antibody test checks your blood to see if your immune system has produced HIV antibodies. If antibodies are present, it means you have been infected with HIV. Because HIV is a retrovirus, these antibodies are powerless in fighting off HIV, but their presence is enough to tell if you have HIV or not.
A positive test only tells you that you are living with HIV. It does not tell you how much virus is in your body, when you were infected or whether or not youll get sick.
Getting tested for HIV relieves feelings of uncertainty and gives you a chance to learn about HIV and sexual risk reduction from a trained counselor. If you test positive, getting tested is the first step in taking control so you can keep yourself healthy.
If you’d like more information about getting tested for HIV or to talk to someone who knows what it is like, contact a member of our Education team.
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
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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.
To Facilitate Hiv Testing Healthcare Providers Can:
- normalise the offer of HIV testing, making it part of routine care
- assure protection of the persons anonymity and confidentiality
- offer an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination
- emphasize the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment
- provide information on risk factors for HIV infection, and prevention methods
- discuss testing options, including POC testing and self-testing
- when taking a sexual health history, keep it brief and relevant, as detailed risk assessments can deter people from seeking care
HIV self-testing and POC testing can facilitate uptake of screening. In addition, HIV self-testing provides an option for people who face barriers to accessing testing in healthcare settings.
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Informed Consent For Testing
In Ontario, there are two ways to get tested for HIV: nominal testing and anonymous testing. You must give informed consent before being tested, whether the test is done nominally or anonymously. Informed consent means that you:
- understand the procedures and the consequences of being tested, including Public Health reporting requirements
- receive pre-test and post-test counselling to prepare for the test and test result and,
- give your permission to be tested.
If someone tests you for HIV without your informed consent, you may want to get legal advice.
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. However, early diagnosis allows for treatment with antiretroviral therapy that can help to suppress levels of virus in your body and greatly improve your long-term health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the World Health Organization recommend that all individuals diagnosed with HIV infection receive treatment as soon as possible, including pregnant women. With advances in treatment, individuals with HIV infection are living longer, healthier lives.
People typically take at least three drugs from two different classes in order to prevent or minimize virus replication and the emergence of drug-resistant strains. Combinations of three or more antiretroviral drugs are referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART. Read the Treatment section of the article on HIV Infection and AIDS for additional details.
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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.
Who Should Be Tested For Hiv And How Frequently
It is recommended that the consideration of HIV testing be made a component of routine care. In general, care providers should take an active approach to HIV testing, offering HIV testing to clients whether or not clients have asked for a test. In the provision of routine medical care, and in discussion with the client, care providers should consider whether there is a benefit to an HIV test.
HIV testing is associated with several advantages:
- a negative test result is an opportunity for clients to take an active role in remaining HIV negative
- the early detection of HIV, especially at the acute stage, can improve outcomes for individuals and prevent further transmission of HIV
- detection at any stage of the disease, prior to wasting and dementia, is an opportunity to initiate lifesaving treatment and other related healthcare services
- opportunities arise for conversations with clients about risk-reduction strategies
2.1.1 Testing recommendations
An in-depth comprehensive HIV behavioural risk assessment is not a requirement for offering an HIV test. An assessment that the client understands how HIV is transmitted, the implications of testing , and how to interpret the test results is sufficient.
For occasions when clients may not be able to accurately estimate their risk, the guide includes more detailed guidance in Appendix B for conducting rapid risk assessments and a more detailed technical review of HIV transmission risks can be found in Appendix C.
2.1.2 Couples testing
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How Much Do Hiv Tests Cost
Unlike rapid tests, blood tests for HIV are covered by Medicare, which means your doctor can order the test free of charge for you.
If you are not eligible for Medicare, you may also be able to claim some of the testing costs through private health insurance. Check with your provider to see if youre eligible.
What Is The Cost Of An Std Test
How much the STD testing costs depends upon many reasons including the type and frequency of the test, your economic conditions, and what type of organizations offer low-cost to free testing like non-profit firms, mobile clinics, urgent care clinics, and even home-testing kits, etc.
However, on average $108-$600 is the range of the cost. Don’t worry, government-funded healthcare services can make it affordable for you under $100! How? Scan your area for some government programs and medicaids.
You can play around by Googling, cheap STI government programs near me + city name. Easy!
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Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- 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.
What Do The Results Mean
If your result is negative, it can mean you dont have HIV. A negative result may also mean you have HIV but its too soon to tell. It can take a few weeks for HIV antibodies and antigens to show up in your body. If your result is negative, your health care provider may order additional HIV tests at a later date.
If your result is positive, you will get a follow-up test to confirm the diagnosis. If both tests are positive, it means you have HIV. It does not mean you have AIDS. While there is no cure for HIV, the disease can be effectively controlled with medicine. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can significantly reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. People with HIV who take ART before the disease gets too advanced can live long, healthy lives. If you are living with HIV, its important to see your health care provider regularly.
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How Can I Get Tested For Hiv
There are a few different ways you can get access to HIV screening:
- A blood or saliva sample can be collected in a healthcare practitioner’s office or a local clinic and sent to a laboratory for testing. Certain testing centers provide either anonymous or confidential HIV testing and counseling. You can also contact your state or local health department to find out where testing may be available. To find a testing site near you, visit the National HIV and STD Testing Resources webpage.
- In these same settings, there may be a rapid test available, with results that are generated in 20 minutes or less.
- There is a home test for HIV that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . It uses a saliva sample and results are available in about 20 minutes.
The home test has two limitations:
1. The saliva test is less sensitive than a blood test, so the home test may miss some cases of HIV that a blood test would detect.2. The home test is not as accurate when it is performed at home by a lay person compared to when it is performed by a trained healthcare professional. However, the convenience of home testing might encourage some people who might otherwise be reluctant to go to a healthcare practitioner or clinic to learn their HIV status.
Are You At Risk For Hiv/aids
The only way to really know if you have HIV, AIDS, or another STI is to get tested. Dont let anxiety stop you! If you feel uneasy about getting tested, remember that:
- Getting tested will take away the worry of not knowing.
- HIV will cause serious health problems if it isnt managed properly.
- HIV testing doesnt take long and can be done anonymously.
- Involves a nurse or doctor discussing the testing process with you beforehand
- Will include counselling before the test
- Involves a specific type of blood test
- Isnt automatic and shouldnt take place without your consent
- Isnt a part of your routine blood test or included with any other STI testing
- Is confidential, and can be done anonymously at any Peel Healthy Sexuality Clinic
- Only you will get the results in person or over the phone
Before your HIV test you will speak with a healthcare practitioner about the test, what the results mean, and what your risks might be. This is called “pre-test counselling.
Ways to Get Tested
There are different ways to get tested for HIV. At Peel Public Health Sexuality clinics, we offer:
No health card is required for any type of HIV testing at a Peel Public Health Healthy Sexuality Clinic and the service is free.
When to Get Tested
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Getting A Result Quickly
Many services offer rapid testing, which means a finger-prick test that will give you a result within minutes.
A self testing kit ordered online and done at home will normally give you a result up to 15 minutes, depending on the kit.
A blood sample taken at a testing centre will be sent to a lab, with results ready within a day or up to a week later.
If you use postal testing, the lab will normally contact you a week or so later with your result.
What Happens After An Hiv Test And Getting The Results
- If your result is negative, you can stop worrying but its good to keep testing regularly.
- If your result is positive or , you will need to give a blood sample to have your results confirmed.
- Remember that HIV is now a manageable illness if you do test positive you can start treatment which will keep you healthy.
is often the hardest step to take, but it is usually not as bad as you imagine.
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Where Can People Find Free Hiv Testing Locations
The CDC maintains a list of HIV testing locations for people who want to find out whether they have contracted the virus. This National HIV and STD Testing Resource can be accessed at . This site includes the ability to search for free testing locations as well as locations that provide rapid tests. Some clinics only provide HIV testing. However, sexually transmitted diseases clinics routinely provide HIV testing along with testing for diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes.
Protecting Yourself And Others
- Using lubricated condoms for vaginal, or anal sex.
- Using non-lubricated condoms for oral sex on a man.
- Using a latex barrier also called a dental dam or dam for anal-oral sex or for oral sex on a woman.
- Using extra-strength condoms with extra lubricant for anal sex.
- Limiting your number of sex partners.
- Not sharing needles, syringes or drug using equipment.
- Not sharing sex toys
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