How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv
No two people with HIV will have the same symptoms, and some may not have any at all. But the infection can cause some common changes over time.
In the first few weeks: These first, flu-like symptoms happen because your body is reacting to HIV. Your immune system is trying to fight it off. The symptoms at this stage can include:
- Aches and pains in muscles and joints
Keep in mind that even if you have these symptoms, that doesnât automatically mean you are HIV-positive. Many different illnesses can cause these problems. Talk to a doctor or an HIV testing facility if you think you might be infected.
At this early stage of HIV infection, itâs important to know that you may not get accurate results from an HIV test. It can take 3-12 weeks for enough signs of the virus to show up on routine tests for the infection, which measure antibodies against HIV. A new kind of screening, called a nucleic acid test, can detect the virus itself during this early stage, but itâs expensive and not usually used for routine HIV testing.
Let the testing site or your doctor know if you think you might be recently infected. Also, be sure to use a condom every time you have sex, and take other steps to prevent spreading the virus.
After years with untreated HIV, youâre likely to get infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that your body is no longer strong enough to fight off. They can be a sign that your infection has gone from HIV to AIDS. You might have:
- Weight loss
What Are The Signs Of An Hiv Infection
Fever is usually the first sign of an HIV infection. Many people also experience other flu-like symptoms as the disease manifests itself two to four weeks after exposure. This early, acute phase of HIV can last up to several weeks. Some of the other possible signs of the infection include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
Knowing you have HIV is almost impossible without a test. Thats because the disease can masquerade as other illnesses and sometimes may not have symptoms at all at first. At least 13% of people with HIV dont even know they have the virus. This makes it much more likely that they will spread the disease to others. If youve had unprotected sex recently, the only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.
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We Know That Men Who Have Sex With Men In Illinois Are At Higher Risk For Hiv What About Women Who Have Sex With Women
It is not a personâs gender, sexual orientation, race or class that puts them at risk for HIV. People are at risk for HIV when they practice risky behaviors. Women who identify as lesbian or gay can be at risk for HIV by practicing any of the behaviors that place women at risk. Lesbian women have become infected with HIV by using injection drugs or having unprotected sex with male or female partners who are already infected with HIV. Women who have sex with other women should follow guidelines in this fact sheet to protect themselves, and can call the Illinois AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline at 800-243-AIDS for specific information.
Increased Outbreaks Of Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
For people who already have another sexually transmitted infection , HIV can lead to worsening symptoms.
Human papillomavirus , which causes genital warts, is more active in people who have HIV. HIV can also cause more frequent and more intense outbreaks in people with genital herpes. Their bodies may not respond as well to their herpes treatment, either.
- not sharing needles when using injected drugs
- taking pre-exposure prophylaxis the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends this preventive medication for people with known risk factors for HIV
- not douching after sex it can alter the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, making an existing infection worse or increasing the risk of contracting HIV and STDs
- using a condom, properly, if not in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner
Women without HIV who have HIV-positive partners arent at risk of contracting the virus if their partner uses HIV medications daily and achieves viral suppression, though ongoing use of a condom is recommended.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source , HIV-positive people pose effectively no risk of transmitting HIV when their viral load is consistently measured at fewer than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
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Comparison To Other Racial/ethnic Groups
The features of the HIV epidemic in Latinx communities are similar to those of other racial/ethnic groups. Even so, there are some features that stand apart from other groups.
- Age of diagnosis: Latinx people tend to get HIV at an earlier age than other racial/ethnic groups, with a higher percentage occurring between the ages of 13 and 24.
- AIDS diagnoses: Compared to Black and White people, Latinx people are more likely to delay testing until they have AIDS. In total, 21% of Latinx people will be diagnosed with AIDS at the time of their first test. The only group with a higher rate is Asians at 25%.
- Living with HIV: Latinx people represent 23% of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States. Black people, who account for 13% of the population, represent the lion’s share of infections at 41%, while White people, who account for 60% of the population, represent 26% of the total HIV population.
- New HIV infections: The rate of new infections among Latinx people is the second highest of any racial/ethnic group. In 2019, 10,200 Latinx people were newly diagnosed with HIV compared to 14,300 Black people and 8,600 White people.
- Viral suppression: Roughly six of every 10 Latinx people with HIV are able to sustain an undetectable viral load while on HIV therapy. This is similar to what is seen in Black populations. By contrast, seven of every 10 White people or Asians with HIV are able to achieve viral suppression.
Why Detection Of New Hiv Infections Is Important
Diagnosing new HIV infections when they are still new is important. Doing so may significantly reduce the spread of HIV. For several reasons, people are at very high risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners in the weeks, months, or years before they know they are HIV positive.
The first reason that people with HIV may be more dangerous to their partners before they’ve tested positive is obvious. If they are unaware of their risk, they may be unmotivated to practice safer sex. The second is that newly infected individuals often have higher viral loads and are more infectious than people who have been infected for a long time. This makes the chance of passing on the virus higher during any particular encounter. The third is that if you haven’t been tested, then you aren’t being treated. Treatment greatly reduces the risk of infecting your partner. In fact, it is now used as a form of prevention.
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What Else Can I Do To Prevent The Spread Of Hiv
- Take every dose of HAART medicines exactly as directed. This will prevent the virus from mutating and becoming much harder to treat. Consistent use of HAART medicines may help prevent the spread of HIV to a sex partner or an unborn baby.
- Join a risk reduction program. Ask your healthcare provider or local health department to help you find a risk reduction program. This program will teach you how to tell others that you have HIV and ask sex partners to use condoms.
- Treat STIs right away. If you are sexually active, get tested for STIs at least 1 time each year. If you become infected with an STI, treat it right away. This may help reduce the risk that you will give HIV to a sex partner.
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
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How Hiv Is Spread
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through:
- Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are spread this way.
- Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early stage of infection and again later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
How Can A Woman Reduce Her Chances Of Contracting Hiv
HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood and semen. Using injection drugs, having unprotected sex and having multiple sex partners increases the chances of acquiring HIV. The only way to be absolutely certain you do not become infected with HIV is to not have sex and not use injection drugs. You also can avoid infection by only having one sex partner as long as your partner does not have HIV and has sex only with you. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention , using a male or female condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex can greatly lower your risk of infection. Using condoms for oral sex will reduce your risk for other STDs as well. It also is important not to douche, since douching removes some of the normal vaginal bacteria that can protect you from infection.
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How Is Hiv/aids Diagnosed
Early HIV infection often causes no symptoms, and must be detected by testing a person’s blood for the presence of antibodiesdisease-fighting proteinsagainst HIV. These HIV antibodies generally do not reach levels high enough to detect by standard blood tests until 1 to 3 months following infection, and may take as long as 6 months. People exposed to HIV should be tested for HIV infection as soon as they think they may have been exposed to HIV.
When a person is highly likely to be infected with HIV and yet antibody tests are negative, a test for the presence of HIV itself in the blood is used. Repeat antibody testing at a later date, when antibodies to HIV are more likely to have developed, is often recommended.
The Death Toll From Aids Is Astronomic
Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in 1981, more than 70 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus, and approximately 35 million people have died from AIDS, including more than 675,000 in the United States, according to agencies such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. People in other parts of the world are much more severely affected in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 1 in every 25 adults has HIV. Overall, however, the rate of new HIV infections and diagnoses is now dropping in the United States, likely thanks to prevention efforts, the CDC reports. But progress has been uneven. Certain groups, such as Hispanic and Latino gay and bisexual men, have had rising numbers of infections and diagnoses.
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How Hiv Is Transmitted
The first step in determining whether you are at risk of HIV is to better understand how the virus is transmitted.
HIV thrives in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Most people get infected when exposed to HIV through these fluids.
HIV is transmitted through:
HIV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth, although this is less common in the developed world due to advances in prevention and treatment.
It is important to note that HIV cannot penetrate intact skin. The virus can enter the body either through porous mucosal tissues , through breaks in vulnerable tissues , or directly through the bloodstream.
HIV infection can occur with just one exposure, particularly in high-risk individuals.
By contrast, HIV does not thrive in saliva, urine, tears, or feces and cannot survive in infectious quantities when exposed to air and environmental conditions.
How Will I Know If I Get Hiv
The only way you can know that you have the HIV virus is by getting tested. Although you may experience symptoms, there is no way of knowing that you have HIV unless you get tested. In fact, some people who have HIV go for years without experiencing any symptoms. So if you have had unprotected sex and you think that maybe you could be a risk, go get tested even if you are not experiencing any symptoms.
An HIV diagnosis can be done using:
- Antibody screening test
This test is also referred to as the ELISA test and it is used to check for a specific HIV-Ab in the body.
Usually, your doctor will take a small sample of your blood for testing. Some ELISA tests check fluids or urine, but a blood test provides more accurate results. It is possible to get a negative result even when you are actually positive when you take a fluid or urine test. This is because the antibodies in fluids are few.
- Antibody/Antigen combination test
The antibody/antigen combination test can detect the HIV virus 20 days after infection. With the antibody screening test, you would have to wait about 8 weeks to get tested if you want to get accurate results.
This test checks for an HIV antigen called core p24 antigen, which is a protein that is found in the virus. This protein shows up 3 weeks after you become infected. The test also checks for the HIV antibodies much like the antibody screening test.
- RNA Test
- Home Test Kits
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How Do I Protect Myself From Hiv
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from HIV, including:
- using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex
- in some countries PrEP is available. This is a course of HIV drugs which if taken consistently as advised by your healthcare professional prevents HIV infection through sex
- avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
- taking HIV treatment if you are a new or expectant mother living with HIV, as this will dramatically reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- asking your healthcare professional if the blood product you are receiving has been tested for HIV
- taking precautions if you are a healthcare worker, such as wearing protection , washing hands after contact with blood and other bodily fluids, and safely disposing of sharp equipment
- if you think you have been exposed to HIV you may be able to access PEP, a 4-week course of ARV drugs taken after possible HIV exposure to prevent HIV infection. You must start PEP within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
For more detailed information on how to prevent HIV infection visit the relevant page from the listed below: