When Should You Get Tested For Hiv After Condomless Sex
Keep in mind, if you believe youve been exposed to HIV, its important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Theres no HIV test that can accurately detect HIV in the body immediately after exposure. Theres a time frame known as the window period before you can be tested for HIV and receive accurate results.
Regardless of the type of test you take after a potential HIV exposure, you should get tested again after the window period has passed to be certain.
People at higher risk of contracting HIV should get regularly tested as often as every 3 months.
What Happens If My Test Is Positive
If you test positive for HIV, it is important to remember that with treatment you can live a long, healthy life. In fact, with early treatment, people with HIV can live about as long as people that are not infected.
A team approach will help you get the medical care and support that you need. Start by talking to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site. He or she can help you with suggestions on how to talk to your parents or guardians and how to find a health care provider who’s an HIV specialist. By starting treatment as soon as possible, you can stay healthy and learn to live well with HIV.
What Should I Do If My Test Is Negative
If your test result is negative, youll probably breathe a big sigh of relief. But dont let down your guard. Its important to protect yourself in the future. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether PrEP is right for you. The PrEP daily pill can reduce your risk of getting HIV from sexual contact by 99%. For IV drug users, it lowers the risk by 74%. PrEP is very important if you are HIV negative and in a stable monogamous relationship with HIV positive partner.
Even if you take PrEP, its still smart to practice safer sex. Always use a condom to reduce your risk of getting HIV and other STDs.
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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.
Can You Be Hiv Positive For Years And Not Know
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.
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What If I Test Positive For Hiv
Although HIV cant be cured with current medical options, it can be managed. This means the virus can be kept from rapidly growing in the body so that it doesnt damage the immune system quickly. The first step you should take is to see a doctor, even if you do not feel sick. You should find a doctor who has experience treating HIV. The Westbrook Clinics in Harlingen and Corpus have provided compassionate treatment and care for thousands of men and women living with HIV and can help youregardless of whether you have insurance or not.
There are now many drugs to treat HIV infection and help you maintain your health. These drugs are called anti-retroviral and protease inhibitors. A combination of these drugs is referred to as a drug cocktail. Many people also get an antibiotic, which will prevent pneumonia. You should also try to stop smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol and using illegal drugs . All of these can weaken your immune system.
After Testing Positive For Hiv How Soon Do People Start Taking Hiv Medicines
People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after their HIV is diagnosed. However, before starting treatment, people with HIV must be prepared to take HIV medicines every day for the rest of their lives.
Issues, such as lack of health insurance or an inability to pay for HIV medicines, can make it hard to take HIV medicines consistently. Health care providers can recommend resources to help people deal with any issues before they start taking HIV medicines.
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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.
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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What Is Risky Activity
A risky activity is anything that makes it possible for the virus to pass from one person to another. Sexual intercourse without a condom is risky because the virus, which is present in an infected persons sexual fluids, can pass directly into the body of their partner.
Contact with an infected persons blood is risky if it allows the virus to pass into another persons body through cuts or grazes in their skin. This includes being pricked by, or injected with a needle or syringe already used by someone else.
What Are The First Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
The only way to know for sure whether you are infected with HIV is to have an HIV antibody test. The symptoms of initial HIV infection are not very specific. If a person is infected, a few weeks after infection some people experience flu-like illness. They may have a sore throat, swollen glands, medium to high-grade fever, rashes, and feel tired. Only one in five people experience symptoms serious enough to require a doctors attention. They will usually recover from this and not know that they are HIV-positive. Several years after infection a person may experience symptoms of particular illnesses and cancers. These are the result of the infected persons immune system being damaged by HIV to the point where it is no longer able to fight off these opportunistic infections.
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What Happens During An Hiv Test
You will either get a blood test in a lab, or do your own test at home.
For a blood test in a lab:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For at home test, you will need to get a sample of saliva from your mouth or a drop of blood from your fingertip.
- The test kit will provide instructions on how to get your sample, package it, and send it to a lab.
- For a saliva test, you will use special spatula-like tool to take a swab from your mouth.
- For a fingertip antibody blood test, you will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood.
For more information on at-home testing, talk to your health care provider.
Im Pregnant When Should I Test
Testing for HIV during your pregnancy is very important. Left undiagnosed and untreated women living with HIV can pass the virus on to their unborn babies. In most countries, HIV tests are a routine part of the care women receive during pregnancy . Partners of pregnant women should also get tested during this time.
The earlier you test in your pregnancy the better. You’ll usually be tested in your first appointment, ideally before your tenth week. These tests should be repeated, either every three months or at least once again in your third trimester.
Your doctor will tell you everything you need to know about HIV testing alongside the other blood tests they do during pregnancy.
If you find out you are positive, youll be given treatment to prevent passing HIV on to your child. The earlier you start treatment, the greater the chance your child will be born HIV-negative. Check out our section on Pregnancy, childbirth & breastfeeding for more information.
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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.
How Do The Tests Work
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others use saliva , but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.
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Reducing The Risk Of Hiv Transmission
The most effective way to prevent HIV transmission during sex is to use a condom. Get a condom ready before any sexual contact occurs, since HIV can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and from the anus.
Lubricants can also help reduce the risk of HIV transmission by helping prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking.
Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms. Oil-based lube can weaken latex and sometimes cause condoms to break.
The use of a dental dam, a small plastic or latex sheet that prevents direct contact between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex, is also effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
For people who may have a higher risk of contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at high risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Per the recommendation, sexually active people are considered at high risk of HIV if they have one of the following characteristics:
- in a sexual relationship with someone who is living with HIV
- inconsistent condom use during sex with a partner whose HIV status is not known and who may be at high risk
- having a sexually transmitted infection , such as syphilis or gonorrhea within the past 6 months
- for men, inconsistent condom use during anal sex
Hiv Testing Outside Of A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you are tested outside of a health care setting or lab you will likely receive a rapid HIV test
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had a possible exposure during the previous 3 months, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your test result is positive, you should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. Counselors providing the test should be able to answer questions and provide referrals for follow-up testing as well. You can use the HIV.gov locator to find a provider near you.
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What Does It Mean If Hiv Viral Load Is Undetectable
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the right HIV treatment can help to increase CD4 count and lower viral load.
Viral load is the term used to describe the levels of the virus in the body. When treatment is taken correctly, viral load can become so low that its referred to as undetectable. While this does not mean that HIV has been cured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does mean that there is no longer a risk of passing the virus on to a partner during sex.
Its important to remember that many people with HIV infection may experience little to no symptoms – making it easy for the virus to go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Early detection of HIV and the correct HIV treatment and medication is key to going on to live a healthy life, which is why regular screening of your sexual health is crucial. Testing can be done with your local healthcare provider or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home STI Tests detect some of the most common sexually transmitted infections. The blood test for HIV involves a simple finger-prick sample and online results will be available within 2-5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available throughout the process to provide medical advice, support, and guidance.
You consider taking a test if:
Where Can Someone Find Resources For A Person Just Diagnosed With Hiv
The following are resources to share with someone with newly diagnosed HIV:
- How to Find HIV Treatment Services, a fact sheet listing HIV-related resources, including resources to help find a health care provider and get help paying for HIV medicines, from HIVinfo.
- Telling Others, a webpage with information on how to share an HIV diagnosis with others, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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How Can I Get Tested
To get tested, you can:
- Ask your doctor to test you.
- Go to a local clinic or community health center.
- Go to National HIV and STD Testing Resourcesto find a testing center near you.
- Buy a test at a pharmacy and do the test at home.
Many testing centers will do an HIV test for free. Ask if there is a fee before you go for testing. In most states you do not need a parent’s permission to get tested for HIV. And you can buy the test at the pharmacy without a parent.
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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