Hiv Tests For Screening And Diagnosis
HIV tests are very accurate, but no test can detect the virus immediately after infection. How soon a test can detect HIV depends on the type of test being used. There are three types of HIV tests: antibody tests, antigen/antibody tests, and nucleic acid tests .
An initial HIV test usually will either be an antigen/antibody test or an antibody test. If the initial HIV test is a rapid or self-test and it is positive, the person should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. If the initial HIV test is a lab test and it is positive, the lab will usually conduct follow-up testing on the same blood sample as the initial test. Although HIV tests are generally accurate, follow-up tests allow the health care provider to confirm the result.
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Which Test Can Give Me Results The Soonest
The period of time also differs, depending on which kind of test you take. The different types of tests include:
- Antibody tests, which look for the antibodies special proteins that help fight infection that your body makes in reaction to an HIV infection. Most rapid tests and at-home tests are these kind. Antibody tests require the longest wait time after infection to get an accurate result. For most people around 97% this takes anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. For some, it can take as long as 6 months.
- Combination or fourth-generation tests, which look for both antibodies and antigens. Antigens are part of the virus itself. One antigen, p24, is detectable before your body starts making antibodies. These tests are becoming more common in the U.S. They can tell you if you have HIV a little sooner than an antibody test can.
- Nucleic acid tests , which can detect HIV in your body the soonest after infection. The test looks for the virus in your blood. You need a certain amount of the virus in your blood before the test will detect it. This is called your viral load. You can get a negative test if your viral load is still low. A NAT can tell you if you have HIV as early as 7 to 28 days after infection. It gives the quickest result, but itâs also the most expensive. Doctors donât typically use it unless youâre at a high risk of exposure to HIV.
Youâre more likely to have a NAT if you:
How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv
It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.
If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.
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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.
False Positives Vs False Negatives
Because STI tests arent perfect, people who design them often have to choose whether its better to have more false-positive or more false-negative results. Which is better depends on the severity of the disease and the healthcare providers ability to treat it.
Imagine, for example, that a condition has no serious long-term consequences but the treatment itself is grueling. In such cases, a false positive is worse than a false negative because it may expose a person to needless treatments that cause more harm than good.
On the other hand, if an infection is serious and requires immediate treatment, the test would need to be highly sensitive to avoid a false-negative result. Doing so can lead to a missed diagnosis. One such example is an HIV test.
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Get Tested Regularly If You Are At Greater Risk Of Hiv
If you are at greater risk of HIV get tested regularly.
Gay, bisexual, trans and other men who have sex with men should get tested every 3 months . This may vary depending on how many sexual partners you have during the year.
Talk with your doctor or sexual health specialist for advice. They can also provide information about how to reduce your risk for HIV and other STIs.
What Does Hiv Do To A Person
HIV infects white blood cells of your immune system called CD4 cells, or helper T cells. It destroys CD4 cells, causing your white blood cell count to drop. This leaves you with an immune system that cant fight off infections, even those that wouldnt normally make you sick.
HIV initially makes you feel sick with flu-like symptoms. Then it can hide in your body for a long time without causing noticeable symptoms. During that time, it slowly destroys your T-cells. When your T-cells get very low or you begin to get certain illnesses that people with healthy immune systems dont get, HIV has progressed to AIDS.
AIDS can cause rapid weight loss, extreme tiredness, mouth or genital ulcers, fevers, night sweats and skin discolorations. Other illnesses and cancers often happen in people living with AIDS and can cause additional symptoms.
Whats a retrovirus?
A retrovirus is a virus that works backward from the way human cells do. Human cells have instructions that send a message to make building blocks for your body .
Retroviruses have their instructions written on RNA. When a retrovirus invades your cells, it changes its RNA to look like your cells instructions . Then it cuts your cells DNA and inserts its instructions into them. Your cell then acts as though the virus instructions are its own.
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Should I Wait To Take An Hiv Test
If you think youve been exposed to HIV, seek medical advice as soon as you can. The doctor or nurse you speak to will be able to advise you about when and how to get tested, so it wont have to be a decision you make on your own.
In some cases, it might be appropriate to get tested more than once. You may be advised to take an early test, and then a second test over 45 days later after the potential exposure.
An early test may show a positive or a negative result, and require confirmation from a second.
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Individual Symptoms Of Hiv Vary From One Person To Another If You Have An Active Sex Life Or Think You May Have Been Exposed To Hiv It Is Important To Get Tested Here Are Some Common Symptoms Of Hiv Many People Experience Severe Flu
Symptoms of HIV can vary between individuals however the first signs of infection generally appear within the first 1-2 months. Many, but not all, people will experience severe flu-like symptoms which is your bodys natural response to the virus. This is called the seroconversion period.
Its during this time that its crucial to identify if HIV is the cause, as your viral load is very high which greatly increases the risk of passing it on. And the only way to know for sure is by getting tested.
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Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your immune system strong. A heart-healthy diet can help prevent some of the problems, such as high cholesterol, that can be caused by treatment for HIV.footnote 24
- Learn how to deal with the weight loss that HIV infection can cause.
- Learn how to handle food properly to avoid getting a foodborne illness. For more information, see the topic Foodborne Illness and Safe Food Handling.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve the quality of your life. Take steps to help prevent HIV-related fatigue.
- Dont smoke. People with HIV are more likely to have a heart attack or get lung cancer.footnote 25, footnote 26 Cigarette smoking can raise these risks even more.
- Dont use illegal drugs. And limit your use of alcohol.
Getting Tested For Hiv
THE IMPORTANCE OF TESTING
Sex without the use of an effective HIV prevention tool or sharing injecting equipment are all activities that can put you at risk of HIV by allowing bodily fluids or vaginal fluid) to enter your body, and possibly your bloodstream.
The only way to know your HIV status is through testing. Testing for HIV is important because it enables the individual to know their status, seek treatment and support if necessary and take steps to prevent onward transmission.
Being tested regularly for HIV is simple, quick and made convenient with multiple testing sites in major cities and towns across Australia. Testing is also available through general practitioners.
There are also a number of community-based testing services around the country, including those that are led by peers.
REGULARITY IS KEY
Gay men and other men who have sex with men are recommended to have a comprehensive sexual health check at least twice a year, and up to four times a year if they are in one or more of these categories:
- have more than 10 sexual partners in 6 months
- participate in group sex
- use crystal meth.
UNDERSTANDING HIV RAPID TESTING
Traditional HIV testing, where blood is drawn and sent to the laboratory for testing can take several days or more to get a result. Rapid Testing uses a pinprick of the finger and returns results within 10 to 20 minutes.
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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.
Order An At Home Hiv Test From Online Doctor
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you can order an at home HIV test kit from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. We use a fifth-generation test that can detect HIV in your blood sample from 45 days although it may sometimes pick up the virus earlier than this.
To use our HIV test, youll need to order one through our secure online clinic, and be approved by one of our doctors. Well send you a kit with a finger prick device that lets you take a small blood sample. Post the sample back to us in a prepaid envelope and well provide results confidentially within three days.
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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.
What Tests Diagnose Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests: antigen/antibody tests, antibody tests and nucleic acid tests :
Antigen tests look for markers on the surface of HIV called p24. Antibody tests look for chemicals your body makes when it reacts to those markers. HIV antigen/antibody tests look for both.
A healthcare provider will take a small sample of blood from your arm with a needle. The blood is sent to a lab and tested for p24 and antibodies to it. An antigen/antibody test is usually able to detect HIV in 18 to 45 days after exposure.
A rapid antigen/antibody test may also be done with a finger prick to draw blood. Youll need to wait at least 18 days after exposure for this type of test to be able to detect HIV. You may need to take the test up to 90 days after exposure for accurate results.
These tests look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or saliva. This can be done with a blood draw from your arm, a finger prick or with a stick that you rub on your gums to collect saliva.
An antibody test can take 23 to 90 days after exposure to detect HIV. Antibody tests done with a blood draw can detect HIV sooner than those done with saliva or blood from a finger prick.
Nucleic acid tests
NATs look for the HIV virus in your blood. A healthcare provider will take a small sample of blood from your arm with a needle. The blood then is sent to a lab and tested for HIV.
- Viral hepatitis screening.
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What Can I Expect If I Have Hiv
If youre diagnosed with HIV, its important to know that those living with HIV who follow treatment guidelines can live full lives for nearly as long as those without HIV.
If you have a high CD4 count and an undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, research suggests youll have the best outcomes, as long as you continue your treatment plan.
You can improve your outlook by:
- Getting tested as part of routine healthcare or if you think youve been exposed.
- Starting ART soon after being diagnosed.
- Taking your medicine every day.
- Keeping your appointments with your healthcare team.
ART can keep blood levels undetectable but cant entirely rid your body of the virus . If you dont take your medication every day, the virus can start multiplying again and mutate, which may cause your medications to stop working.
Left untreated, it can take about 10 years for HIV to advance to AIDS. If you progress to AIDS and it goes untreated, you can expect to live about three years more.
For those on treatment, if you have a high CD4 count and undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you can expect to live about as long as someone without HIV. If you have a low CD4 count or a detectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you may live 10 to 20 years less than someone without HIV.
What Happens If I Test Positive
If the result from an initial HIV test is positive, a healthcare professional will order follow-up testing to learn if the result is accurate.
If the first test was conducted at home, a healthcare professional will draw a sample of blood to test in a lab. If the first test was done in a lab, follow-up testing may be conducted on the same blood sample at the lab.
If the second test result is positive, a healthcare professional can help explain the treatment options for HIV. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve the long-term outlook and reduce the chances of developing complications from HIV.
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Can Chlamydia Be Cured
Yes, chlamydia can be cured with the right treatment. It is important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. When taken properly it will stop the infection and could decrease your chances of having complications later on. You should not share medication for chlamydia with anyone.
Repeat infection with chlamydia is common. You should be tested again about three months after you are treated, even if your sex partner was treated.
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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 Resources to 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.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
People have different experiences with side effects. For some it is mild and does not last for more than a few days while others may experience side effects for a few weeks. In general side effects from taking ARVs should not last more than 2-3 weeks. Talk to your doctor or Adherence Counsellor about managing side effects.
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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What Does A Positive Result Mean
A positive result means you probably have a chlamydia infection .
The test cannot show how long youve had an infection. It is thought that you can have chlamydia for weeks, months or even years, without knowing.
You will need treatment as soon as possible.
Its possible that your partners test result may be different from yours.