Who Will Know The Results Of My Testing
It depends on where you get your testing. Testing sites have different privacy rules. Ask about privacy rules at your testing site so you understand whether anyone else will know you got tested or see your results.
If you go to an anonymous test site, only you know the results. No written record of the test result is kept.
If you go to a confidential test site, the results will go in your medical record. Positive results are sent to the state or local health department. Your insurance company will have access to your results. Depending on the state you live in, your parent or guardian may be contacted.
Who Is At Risk For Hiv Infection
Anyone can get HIV, but certain groups have a higher risk of getting it:
- People who have another sexually transmitted disease . Having an STD can increase your risk of getting or spreading HIV.
- People who inject drugs with shared needles
- Gay and bisexual men, especially those who are Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino American
- People who engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms
What To Expect Next
If you find out you are HIV-positive, its important to keep in mind the condition is treatable. Antiretroviral therapy is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. It works by lowering the amount of virus in the body to very low levels. This treatment can also slow the progression of the infection and protect the immune system.
Taking ART medications is vital to slowing the progression of HIV. Left untreated, HIV will progress to the second stage. During this stage, people may experience no symptoms at all. If no treatment is administered, an individual can stay in this stage for 10 to 15 years.
For people who have no symptoms of an acute HIV infection, it takes an average of seven years to proceed to AIDS.
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Hiv: A Brief Overview
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually transmitted virus that spreads through exposure to certain body fluidsâlike genital secretions or blood. HIV transmission can also occur from a mother to a child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV attacks and impairs the bodyâs immune cells, which weakens the immune system and can eventually progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome if it isnât treated. AIDS can be a life-threatening condition, particularly if HIV treatment is not initiated promptly, which is why HIV testing is crucial for protecting your health.
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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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How Do People Become Infected With Hiv
HIV is in the blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk of an infected person. It can be spread by exposure to these body fluids by:
- unprotected anal or vaginal sex without a condom
- transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- oral sex, although this is rare
- healthcare workers receiving ‘needlestick injuries’
It is important to remember that HIV is not spread through activities such as kissing, sharing cups and cutlery, normal social contact, toilet seats or mosquitoes.
You are at higher risk of HIV infection if:
- you are a man, a transgender woman or a person who identifies as gender diverse who has sex with men
- you have sex or share needles with someone else at risk of HIV
- you share sex toys
- you have sex with people from countries with a high rate of HIV infection
- you inject illegal drugs and share needles
- you have had tattoos or other piercings overseas using unsterile equipment
- you have a sexually transmitted infection . People can be infected with several different STIs at the same time. Having an STI can make it easier to become infected with HIV and pass it on to sexual partners.
- you have had a blood transfusion in a country where the blood supply is not safe
Some people are at a higher risk of HIV infection because they are exposed to more people with HIV infection or engage in more high-risk behaviour. These include:
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.
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Why Should Someone Get Tested For Hiv
If someone is infected with HIV, it’s important to know because:
- Starting medicines right away can keep a person stay healthy for a long time.
- There are ways to stop the spread of HIV to others, such as using a condom and taking medicines.
- A pregnant woman who is infected can get treatment to try to prevent passing HIV to her baby.
Another reason to get tested is peace of mind: A negative test result can be a big relief for someone who is worried about being infected.
To 28 Days After Exposure
The exception: a symptom called lymphadenopathy, the sometimes painful swelling of lymph nodes in areas of the body such as the neck, armpits, or groin region. Even when the other symptoms have disappeared, lymphadenopathy may continue for months or even longer.
“The important thing to remember is that the resolution of symptoms does not mean the infection is gone,” says Dennis Sifris, MD, an HIV specialist with the Lifesense Disease Management Group, located in South Africa. “HIV is not like hepatitis, which can spontaneously clear. HIV is forever and is better treated sooner rather than later.”
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Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
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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If My Test Is Negative Do I Need Get Tested Again
Talk to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site to see if you need to get tested again.
Some reasons to get tested again include if you:
- have sex without a condom
- are a guy who has sex with other guys
- have had sex with more than three partners in the past year
- get an STD
- are a woman and are pregnant
Early Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv
Some people experience flu-like symptoms at the start of an HIV infection. These early HIV symptoms usually develop within 2-4 weeks in an infected person and may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This early stage of the infection is known as an acute HIV infection.
Possible early symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Mouth ulcers
Itâs worth keeping in mind that such early symptoms can also be caused by other health conditionsânot just HIV. In short, if youâre experiencing these symptoms, it doesnât necessarily mean that you have HIVâwhich is why STI testing and consulting with your healthcare provider can be helpful next steps to take.
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How Is Hiv Transmitted
“HIV itself is found in bodily fluids of the infected person. These fluids include semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk. That said, it cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva,” she says.
“Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles is at risk of getting infected with 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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Symptom : Night Sweats
Night sweats are repeated episodes of extreme sweating, causing bedding and any nightclothes to become soaked. Many people will get night sweats during the early stages of HIV. These can be even more common later in infection and arent related to exercise or the temperature of the room.Get tested if symptoms of HIV appear
With such a vast array of symptoms, HIV testing is vital to ensure a proper diagnosis. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, or have an active sex life with casual sex partners, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of HIV or not, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
Can You Tell If Someone Has Hiv Or Aids
The majority of HIV patients do not exhibit any physical symptoms. Thus, an HIV-positive person may not know they have the disease. A person who has HIV may experience symptoms within a few weeks of infection with the virus. There are similar symptoms to those of other common illnesses in these cases.
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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?
What We Know About The Types Of Hiv Tests
HIV tests are very accurate, but no HIV test can detect HIV immediately after a person gets the virus. Some kinds of tests detect HIV sooner than others. In general, nucleic acid tests can detect HIV the soonest, followed by antigen/antibody tests, and then antibody tests.
Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. Your immune system makes antibodies when youre exposed to bacteria or viruses like HIV. Antibody tests look for these antibodies in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV slightly sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
More Information With a rapid antibody screening test, results are ready in 30 minutes or less.
A self-test is an antibody test you can buy at a pharmacy or online. There is currently one available FDA-approved self-test, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test.
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test gives fast results at home. You have to swab your mouth to get an oral fluid sample and use a kit to test it. Results are ready in 20 minutes. If the test says you have HIV, you should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. The manufacturer provides confidential counseling and refers you to follow-up testing sites.
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Aids Is The Final Stage
Controlling HIV with medications is crucial to both maintaining quality of life and helping prevent progression of the disease. Stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS, develops when HIV has significantly weakened the immune system.
According to the CDC National Prevention Information Network, CD4 levels give one indication that HIV has progressed to its final stage. CD4 levels decreasing below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood is considered a sign of AIDS. A normal range is considered 500 to 1,600 cells/mm3.
AIDS can be diagnosed with a blood test to measure CD4. Sometimes its also determined simply by a persons overall health. In particular, an infection thats rare in people who dont have HIV may indicate AIDS. Symptoms of AIDS include:
- persistent high fevers of over 100°F
AIDS is the final stage of HIV. According to AIDSinfo, it takes at least 10 years without treatment for most people with HIV to develop AIDS.
At that point, the body is susceptible to a wide range of infections and cant effectively fight them off. Medical intervention is necessary to treat AIDS-related illnesses or complications that can otherwise be fatal. Without treatments, the CDC estimates the average survival rate to be three years once AIDS is diagnosed. Depending on the severity of their condition, a persons outlook may be significantly shorter.
Getting Tested For Hiv
HIV testing is important. Someone living with HIV who isnt getting treatment can still transmit the virus, even if they have no symptoms. Others may pass the virus to others through an exchange of bodily fluids. But todays treatment can effectively eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus to a persons HIV-negative sexual partners.
According to the CDC , antiretroviral therapy can lead to viral suppression. When someone with HIV can maintain an undetectable viral load, they cant transmit HIV to others. The CDC defines an undetectable viral load as fewer than 200 copies per milliliter of blood.
Taking an HIV test is the only way to determine whether the virus is in the body. There are known risk factors that increase a persons chance of contracting HIV. For example, people whove had sex without a condom or shared needles may want to consider seeing their healthcare professional about getting tested.
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Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the bodys natural response to HIV infection.
Flu-like symptoms can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.
Dont assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptomsthey can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.
Heres what to do:
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 .
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