How An Hiv Test Works
An HIV test is a blood test. It does not detect HIV itself, but looks for a protein found in an HIV cell, or an antibody made by the body to fight HIV.
HIV tests in the UK are very reliable. They can occasionally produce a positive result which is then found to be negative when tested again. This is called a false positive and is rare, occurring in less than 1 in 1000 cases.
How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home HIV tests are a convenient way to take an HIV test in a private location. Testing for HIV at home is a form of HIV screening that requires additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home HIV tests can be obtained online, at a pharmacy, or at health departments and community-based organizations.
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When To Be Tested Again
If you have a negative test within the window period from your last potentialexposure, you should be tested again after the window period has passed.
A positive result on an HIV test means that either HIV has been detected in your body or your body seems to be responding to an HIV infection. Depending on the type of test used, a positive result may be preliminary. Preliminary results require additional testing before it can be determined if you actually are infected with HIV.
Rapid test results are generally preliminary. HIV tests that are sent to a lab and initially come back positive may be confirmed by running an additional test before results are reported to you.
A positive HIV test result does not mean that you are immunocompromised. Understanding how and whether HIV has affected your overall health requires additional testing.
Rapid Tests Finger Pricks
In our Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch centres we offer rapid finger-prick tests. No needles are required for the rapid tests just a quick and painless finger prick. A single drop of blood is placed into the testing device and, depending on the type of appointment, you will have a result in 10 minutes or 60 seconds.
Check out our video guide to getting free HIV and Syphilis rapid tests at NZAF clinics around New Zealand.
You can book your own appointment for a free rapid test with our user-friendly self-booking service.
*Please note that we are no longer providing Hepatitis C testing.
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Some Practices Dont Reduce Your Risk Of Hiv
Some people use unreliable methods to reduce their risk of HIV. These include:
- Serosorting choosing your sexual partner based upon them having the same HIV status as you.
- Strategic positioning where an HIV-negative partner penetrates an HIV-positive partner.
- Withdrawal when the insertive partner pulls out before ejaculating .
None of these strategies are reliable, so you are at risk of HIV transmission.Having sex only with people who have the same HIV status can be very risky. For example, a person may think they are HIV-negative, but may have been exposed to HIV since their last test, or may never have been tested at all.
Using a combination of proven, reliable strategies like condoms, PrEP, and undetectable viral load is the best way to prevent HIV transmission.
What Support Is Available
If you receive an HIV diagnosis, you can find help. Your healthcare provider can recommend support groups and counselors.
If someone tells you they are HIV-positive, they are telling you because they trust you. The time right after diagnosis can be very tough. You can support them in many ways:
- Be a friend. While they may not be ready to talk about their diagnosis right away, show them you care by treating them as you did before.
- Listen. Your friend may just need someone to listen to their concerns and fears. Be there for them.
- Learn about the disease. The reference section of this article has additional information to learn about the condition.
- Encourage them to seek treatment. Your friend may not realize they have options available. They do, and they can get treatment. Help them find it and stick to it.
- Get help for yourself. While it will be a challenging time for your friend, you may need some support too. Talk to others a counselor, for example about any concerns or anxieties you may have.
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How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person
HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
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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Is Hiv Testing Confidential
If you test positive for HIV, your status becomes part of your private medical record and is protected by federal privacy laws. Your state may require your healthcare provider to report the infection to your state health department. State departments send results to the CDC without your personal identifiable information.
Some states have laws that require you or your healthcare provider to notify your partner of your HIV-positive status. In some states, if you dont report your status to your partner, you can be charged with a crime.
You can choose anonymous testing. Anonymous tests dont link the results to your information. The state health department still collects the statistics, but the results arent part of your medical record.
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.
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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.
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
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Results Reporting Critical Findings
Once HIV is diagnosed, it is essential to link patients who are HIV-positive to the care they need. The CDC uses the HIV care continuum to explain that only 30% of the 1 million adults living with HIV in the United States are in treatment, adhering to medication therapy, and achieving viral control. Data from 2011 shows that only 86% of HIV-positive adults are diagnosed, 40% are linked to a provider, 37% are prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and 30% adhere to the medications to achieve viral suppression. The care continuum is a motivating tool for healthcare providers to intervene at every level of HIV care to improve outcomes. HIV can be treated in a variety of settings including primary care, infectious disease specialty offices, federally qualified health centers, and specific HIV care centers. Every practice that screens for HIV should develop a relationship with a treating office and follow up with patients concerning their linkage to care.
What Will Being Undetectable Mean For Me
Having an undetectable viral load means that your ART is effectively controlling your HIV. This will protect your immune system and help you to stay in good health.
Being undetectable also means that you dont have to worry about passing HIV onto your sexual partners. For many people this is just as important to them, giving them relief from the anxiety of passing HIV on. Some people find that knowing theyre undetectable makes it easier to with others, as it can be reassuring for others to know that your health is protected and you cant pass it on too.
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How Do You Get Hiv
HIV infection can occur in the following ways:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse, especially receptive anal intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections increase the HIV transmission risk by three times syphilis raises the transmission risk by seven times and genital herpes raises the infection risk by 25 times during an outbreak
- Sharing IV needles or injections
- Receiving HIV infected blood products
- Needle-stick injuries
- Maternal HIV infection : The risk of transmission can be reduced at birth by practices like cesarean delivery and prenatal antiretroviral therapy in the mother, and antiretroviral therapy in the newborn immediately after birth
How Are Testing Technologies Used To Diagnose Hiv Infection
To test for HIV, a sample of a persons blood is taken. With the most common test, a vial of blood taken from a vein is sent to a laboratory to be tested for HIV . There are also rapid tests available, which use a drop of blood from a finger prick to test for HIV immediately after the sample is taken.
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Types Of Condomless Sex And Risk Of Hiv
During condomless sex, HIV in the bodily fluids of one person may be transmitted to the body of another person through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, and anus. In very rare cases, HIV could potentially be transmitted through a cut or sore in the mouth during oral sex.
Out of any type of condomless sex, HIV can most easily be transmitted during anal sex. This is because the lining of the anus is delicate and prone to damage, which may provide entry points for HIV. Receptive anal sex, often called bottoming, poses more risk for contracting HIV than insertive anal sex, or topping.
HIV can also be transmitted during vaginal sex without a condom, although the vaginal lining is not as susceptible to rips and tears as the anus.
The risk of getting HIV from oral sex without using a condom or dental dam is very low. It would be possible for HIV to be transmitted if the person giving oral sex has mouth sores or bleeding gums, or if the person receiving oral sex has recently contracted HIV.
In addition to HIV, anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom or dental dam can also lead to transmission of other STIs.
Should You Consider Preventive Medication
How quickly a person is able to see a healthcare provider after exposure to HIV can significantly affect their chances of contracting the virus.
If you believe youve been exposed to HIV, visit a healthcare provider within 72 hours. You may be offered an antiretroviral treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis that can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. PEP is typically taken once or twice daily for a period of 28 days.
PEP has little or no effect if taken more than
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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.
Why Its Important To Test
If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Once youre on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable then you can’t pass the virus on to anyone else.
If you wait to test, the virus could do a lot of damage. There is a lot of support available for people who test positive.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who is showing symptoms of HIV should contact a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if the individual has recently had sexual contact with someone else or shared a needle with someone else.
HIV can remain asymptomatic for a long time. For this reason, anyone who has recently had unprotected sex and is concerned about exposure to HIV should contact a doctor as soon as they can, even if they do not have any symptoms. The same goes for anyone who has recently shared a needle.
It can be difficult to discuss the possibility of having HIV. However, without proper treatment, HIV can be life threatening. In these situations, it is very important for people to put their long-term health first and to discuss the matter with a doctor.
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 Types Of Tests Diagnose Hiv
To diagnose HIV, healthcare providers can order any of three tests:
- Nucleic acid test: The NAT test looks for the virus in your blood. It is a thorough laboratory test but can be costly. The results can take several days to receive.
- Antigen/antibody test: This test looks for antibodies and antigens to HIV in your blood. Your immune system forms antibodies when it comes in contact with viruses, such as HIV. Antigens, however, are foreign substances that activate your immune system. HIV has a particular antigen that this test can find. This rapid test uses a drop of blood from a finger prick and can give you results in roughly 30 minutes.
- HIV antibody test: This test is similar to the antigen/antibody test, but it only looks for the antibody. Just like the antigen/antibody test, this test produces results in around 30 minutes. It uses either a drop of blood from a finger prick or a swab of saliva.
Some states allow for home testing. There are two types of home tests:
- Rapid self-test: The only rapid self-test available in the United States uses a saliva sample to check for infection. After you receive your kit, you swab your gums and use the test kit to get results.
- Mail-in self-test: This test uses a blood sample from a simple finger prick. All of the supplies are in the kit to help you take the sample, package it and send it to the lab. A healthcare provider will tell you the results.