What Is An Undetectable Viral Load
- Taking antiretroviral treatment reduces the amount of HIV in your body.
- With proper adherence, ART can reduce HIV to such low levels that the virus can no longer be detected in normal blood tests. This is called having an undetectable viral load.
- People with undetectable viral loads cant pass HIV on through sex.
- To know that youre undetectable, you must have your viral load monitored regularly.
- Remember your viral load can change. If you stop taking your treatment properly your viral load will go up again.
Letting Partners Know You Have Hiv
If you have just been diagnosed with HIV, it will likely be a difficult time. You might still be struggling to come to terms with diagnosis.
During this time, it is important to let any sexual or injecting partners know they may have been exposed to HIV as soon as you can, so they can be tested and offered PEP if appropriate.
You do not have to do this alone. Your doctor or the Department of Health and Human Services Partner Notification Officers can help you through this process and ensure your identity is not revealed.. Both groups can provide information, support, and guidance for people living with HIV.
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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Can Hiv Go Undetected For 2 Years
HIV can be contracted for years before a person realizes they have it. HIV is a cause of death. The symptoms of HIV may not appear for more than a decade. The fact that HIV does not have symptoms does not mean that it is less serious. In addition, people who do not experience symptoms may still transmit HIV to others if they do not have symptoms.
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.
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Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
Am I Going To Die Of Aids
While complications from HIV infection remain a possibility, current treatments and medications are giving people with HIV a positive prognosis and near-normal life-span. This makes patients living with HIV vulnerable to the same health conditions that affect all people as they age. This is why it is important to maintain good health throughout your life.
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Hiv Testing In A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you take a test in a health care setting or a lab, a health care provider or lab technician will take your sample . If its a rapid test, you may be able to wait for the results, but if its a laboratory test, it can take several days for your results to be available. Your health care provider or counselor may talk with you about your risk factors, answer any questions you might have, and discuss next steps with you, especially if your result is positive.
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had an exposure during the window period for the test you took, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your HIV test result is positive, the lab will conduct follow-up testing, usually on the same sample as the first.
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.
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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.
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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Importance Of Hiv Testing For Prevention Of Hiv Infection
People with HIV who are aware of their status can get HIV treatment and remain healthy for many years. Studies show that the sooner people start treatment after diagnosis, the more they benefit from ART. Treatment with ART reduces the amount of HIV in the blood , reduces HIV-related illness, and helps prevent transmission to others. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to HIV-negative sex partners.
People who get tested and learn they dont have HIV can also make decisions about sex, drug use, and health care that can protect them from HIV. For people at risk for HIV, taking HIV medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis is highly effective for preventing HIV.
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How Will I Know If I Am Undetectable
You cant tell if you have an undetectable viral load simply by how healthy you look and feel. The only way to know that your viral load is undetectable is by regular viral load monitoring.
Viral load monitoring involves a simple blood test to measure how many particles of HIV there are in a small sample of your blood . From this you and your healthcare worker can understand how well your ART is working.
A low viral load means that your ART is working well and controlling your HIV. If you have an undetectable viral load, it means that the amount of HIV in your body is so low that you can’t pass it on to other people through sex.
The point at which a viral load is classified as being undetectable may vary across different countries depending on the tests available. But so long as your viral load is under 200 copies per millilitre, youre considered virally suppressed and unable to pass HIV on.
The frequency with which you are offered viral load testing may vary depending on where you are and the services available to you. The World Health Organization recommends that when first starting ART, you should have your viral load measured after the first 6 months of treatment and again at 12 months. After becoming undetectable you should still receive viral load testing at least every 12 months. Depending on the resources available and your particular health status, your health worker may recommend that your viral load is monitored more often than this.
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How To Tell If Symptoms Are Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests:
- An NAT involves drawing blood from a vein. It can tell if you have HIV or how much virus is present in your blood. While an NAT can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests, this test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure, or a possible exposure and have early symptoms of HIV infection. This test takes several days for results to come back.
- An antigen/antibody test is recommended for testing done in labs and is now common in the United States. It involves drawing blood from a vein, and results take several days to come back. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick and takes 30 minutes or less to get results.
- HIV antibody tests only look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid. Antibody tests can detect an HIV infection 23 to 90 days after exposure. Most rapid tests and the only currently approved HIV self-test are antibody tests. They take 20 minutes or less to provide results.
Keep in mind, any positive result would necessitate a second test to confirm it. The only test that would not require a second confirmatory test is the NAT.
How Long Can Hiv Go Undetected
In most parts of the world, being diagnosed with immunodeficiency virus or HIV is still considered a death sentence, but that is not really the case in developed countries. With the availability of new resources, it is now possible to manage HIV in a much better way. However, millions of people still do not have access to those resources and many of them die because of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , which is the last stage of the infection caused by HIV. Statistics have found that more than 11 million Americans, older than 13, had HIV at the end of 2014. The numbers are not accurate because many people never realize that they are infected. This makes people wonder how long HIV can go undetected.
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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.
If I Am Diagnosed With Hiv Can I Tell When I Got It
In general, NO. A skilled healthcare provider can generally estimate how long you have been infected by looking at the levels of virus in your body, your CD4 count, and whether or not you have had any opportunistic infections. If you are currently suffering from symptoms of acute HIV infection, a healthcare provider can usually conclude that infection occurred within the past few weeks.
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Timing Of Serological Testing In Infants
The most recent advances in EIA technology have produced combination assays, which allow for the simultaneous detection of p24 HIV antigen and HIV antibodies. This approach has further shortened the window period, i.e. the interval between HIV infection and detectable HIV antigen/antibodies. Rapid tests appear to offer similar performance characteristics but they detect antibody 28 days later than third-generation EIAs.
All children born to HIV-infected mothers carry detectable maternal HIV antibody and this declines slowly over the first year of life. The rate of decay of maternal antibody has been ascertained largely by analysis of studies to detect HIV antibody in children who have not been breastfed. The mean and/or median age at the time of seroreversion ranges between 9 and 16 months of age in studies from both developed and developing countries . These data indicate that maternal antibody may remain detectable through the first 6 months of life but significant decay occurs by 912 months of age. Most HIV-uninfected children do not have detectable antibody at 12 months of age .
How Soon Can I Take An Hiv Test
This question usually refers to how soon after exposure can someone test for HIV.
This used to involve waiting 3 to 4 weeks before taking an HIV test .
However, 2020 UK guidelines now recommend waiting 6 weeks.
This is because 4th generation HIV tests will detect 99% of infections at 6 weeks compared to 95% of infections 4 weeks after exposure.
A negative test after four weeks needs to be confirmed with a second test three months after the risk. This is to cover the small chance that you take longer than four weeks to generate an antibody response.
Extending this to 6 weeks means the confirmatory test is no longer needed.
In high risk exposures, especially if symptoms occur, viral load testing is sometimes used after one week. This includes after a sexual assault or after a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker.
In these cases a viral load test can exclude an infection when there are symptoms.
Viral load tests are not approved to diagnose HIV. A negative result still needs to be confirmed by an antibody test three months after the risk.
Figure 6: Recommended time from exposure to HIV test *
* This diagram needs to be updated to show the six-week window.
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Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
How Long Does It Take For Hiv To Test Positive
In the event that PEP has been taken for a period of time, most modern HIV tests can detect HIV within four weeks of exposure. It depends on the type of test you are offered and when your risk was, as well as the type of test you were offered, whether you will be asked to return for more tests and a follow-up.
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Interpretation Of Serological Test Results
Negative HIV serological testing in an infant, following nationally validated testing algorithms, suggests the following:
- The infant is not HIV-exposed or
- The infant is HIV-exposed but has seroreverted or
- If the infant has never been breastfed or not breastfed in the past 6 weeks, the infant is HIV uninfected.
If the infant is still breastfeeding, a negative HIV serological test result cannot exclude HIV infection.
Positive or reactive HIV serological testing in an infant suggests the following:
- The infant is HIV-exposed and /or
- The infant may be HIV-infected the older the infant, the more likely the infant is of being HIV-infected.
For the purposes of testing in children in relation to breastfeeding, the window period required before serological testing can be reliably interpreted after cessation of breastfeeding using rapid tests or EIA is recommended to be 6 weeks. Isolated case reports of false-negative rapid HIV tests in sick children who then go on to being HIV-infected need to be investigated.
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.
Verywell / Danie Drankwalter
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