Why Is Hiv Testing Important
Knowing your HIV status can help keep youand otherssafe.
If you are HIV negative:
A negative HIV test result shows that you do not have HIV. Continue taking steps to avoid getting HIV, such as using condoms during sex and, if you are at high risk of getting HIV, taking medicines to prevent HIV . For more information, read the HIVinfo fact sheet on The Basics of HIV Prevention.
If you are HIV positive:
A positive HIV test result shows that you have HIV, but you can still take steps to protect your health. Begin by talking to your health care provider about antiretroviral therapy . People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines every day to treat HIV infection. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV, and people with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. ART cannot cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
A main goal of ART is to reduce a persons viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.
When To Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, its best to speak to a healthcare professional immediately.
Even if you dont think you have been at risk, testing regularly is good practice for people who are having sex. Its important to test for HIV during pregnancy. If you know your status, you can avoid passing the virus on to your baby. A window period is the amount of time it takes after infection for a test to give you an accurate result. Its good to know about window periods, but dont delay getting tested if you think you might have been exposed to HIV.
Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
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Screening For Hiv In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll be offered a blood test to check if you have HIV as part of routine antenatal screening.
If untreated, HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Treatment in pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of passing HIV on to the baby.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
What Happens If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your initial test is positive for HIV antibodies, then additional testing is required to confirm that the first one was accurate. Sometimes this involves a second blood test.
When you are first diagnosed you will probably experience strong emotions. During this time, do not try to cope on your own. Seek support by speaking with your doctor, or contact your local community organisation. They have trained peer workers available to help you through the initial stages of a positive diagnosis, but also through your journey of living well with HIV.
Part of testing best practice includes pre- and post-test counselling. Post-test counselling is important, regardless of the outcome. If you test positive, counselling can provide emotional support, further information about living with HIV, and referrals to support services.
If the test is negative, counselling can provide education about HIV and how to reduce your HIV risk in the future. are community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with HIV. Peer workers are also available to help you navigate living with HIV.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, visit Next Steps for more information.
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Conceptual Framework Defining Vulnerable Populations In Hiv/aids Clinical Trials
The two initial, open-ended questions asking about how study populations in HIV/AIDS clinical trials are vulnerable elicited an array of indicators that we first organized into three broad vulnerability categories: social , treatment-related , and research participation-related . While organizing these vulnerable indicators into categories was useful, these indicators alone did not fully explain the possible circumstances in which HIV/AIDS clinical trial enrollees could be considered vulnerable in clinical research. To answer this question, we explored the thematic co-occurrences among these indicators, which were then used to develop a conceptual framework informing how researchers define vulnerable populations in HIV/AIDS clinical trials .
Conceptual framework for understanding vulnerability in HIV/AIDS clinical trials
The following quotation illustrates an example of the co-occurrences among some of the social, treatment-related, and research participation-related vulnerabilities depicted in vulnerable population indicators are highlighted in italics. In this example, the study coordinator was sharing a story about a new enrollee who also just found out that he was HIV-positive:
Other special protections for HIV/AIDS clinical trial enrollees that were described included:
Other Tests Used In Hiv Treatment
The CD4 T-cell count is not an HIV test, but rather a procedure where the number of CD4 T-cells in the blood is determined.
A CD4 count does not check for the presence of HIV. It is used to monitor immune system function in HIV-positive people. Declining CD4 T-cell counts are considered to be a marker of progression of HIV infection. A normal CD4 count can range from 500 cells/mm3 to 1000 cells/mm3. In HIV-positive people, AIDS is officially diagnosed when the count drops below 200 cells/Î¼L or when certain opportunistic infections occur. This use of a CD4 count as an AIDS criterion was introduced in 1992 the value of 200 was chosen because it corresponded with a greatly increased likelihood of opportunistic infection. Lower CD4 counts in people with AIDS are indicators that prophylaxis against certain types of opportunistic infections should be instituted.
Low CD4 T-cell counts are associated with a variety of conditions, including many viral infections, bacterial infections, parasitic infections, primary immunodeficiency, coccidioidomycosis, burns, trauma, intravenous injections of foreign proteins, malnutrition, over-exercising, pregnancy, normal daily variation, psychological stress, and social isolation.
This test is also used occasionally to estimate immune system function for people whose CD4 T cells are impaired for reasons other than HIV infection, which include several blood diseases, several genetic disorders, and the side effects of many chemotherapy drugs.
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Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
Reliability Of Virological Tests In The Presence Of Arv Exposure
There are theoretical concerns about the use of RNA or p24 Ag virological testing in infants who have been administered or are taking ARV prophylaxis for PMTCT or are breastfeeding where the mother is taking ART. Detection of viral RNA and p24 Ag depend on viral replication and ARVs inhibit this. Administration of more potent ARVs or combinations temporarily suppresses HIV RNA levels to low or undetectable levels . However, there are currently no data available to suggest that existing recommendations need to be revised. HIV RNA testing has been demonstrated to provide equal or improved sensitivity over DNA testing on plasma specimens . For infants on prophylaxis, some uncertainty remains related to reliability in extended infant prophylaxis.
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Making Hiv Testing Routine
You might want to test more regularly than this, for example, if you are having sex with a new partner or feel you are more at risk. Groups who are more at risk are recommended to test more regularly. Testing every 3-6 months is often advised for men who have sex with men.
Testing regularly helps keep your mind at rest, and if you test positive, it means you can start treatment quickly, protecting your health.
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.
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Where Can People Find Free Hiv Testing Locations
The CDC maintains a list of HIV testing locations for people who want to find out whether they have contracted the virus. This National HIV and STD Testing Resource can be accessed at . This site includes the ability to search for free testing locations as well as locations that provide rapid tests. Some clinics only provide HIV testing. However, sexually transmitted diseases clinics routinely provide HIV testing along with testing for diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes.
What Are False Positives And False Negatives
False-negative and false-positive test results can happen.
False-negative tests can occur when antigen or antibody levels cant be detected in a testing sample. Perhaps the immune system didnt develop enough antibodies to be detected at the time of the test, or the test may not have been sensitive enough to detect the levels.
If the test is done early in the window period and the result is negative, theres a chance that a follow-up test may be positive.
If a rapid test is taken and the result is positive, a second test will be done to confirm the result.
False positives can occur and arent considered officially positive until the test is confirmed with a second positive test result.
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Window Periods And Accuracy
The window period is the time immediately after infection, during which tests cannot always detect antibodies or p24 antigen, and so may give a false negative result. It is hard to say exactly how long the window period for any test lasts, as there are variations between individuals and it is a difficult topic to research . Nonetheless, it is estimated that the median window period for fourth-generation tests is 18 days, with half of all infections being detected between 13 and 24 days after exposure. While occasionally this period will be a little longer, 99% of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 44 days of exposure.
Therefore, UK guidelines state that an antibody/antigen laboratory test will detect the great majority of individuals who have been infected with HIV four weeks after specific exposure.
Something the immune system can recognise as ‘foreign’ and attack.
Fourth-generation laboratory tests are extremely accurate. The key measures of accuracy are sensitivity and specificity . In terms of sensitivity, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review identified four studies of two different assays, with sensitivity always above 99.7% for established infection. A Health Protection Agency evaluation found that nine out of the ten tests they evaluated had a sensitivity of 100%, while a French evaluation found that ten of twelve tests had a sensitivity of 100%. The lowest sensitivity was 99.8%.
Hiv Stigma And Discrimination
HIV can prompt intense feelings in people, regardless of their HIV status. It is sometimes viewed with a sense of unacceptability or disgrace. A person with HIV may feel shame and despair about their status. An HIV-negative person may be fearful or angry when they discover someone has HIV. The relationship of these feelings to HIV is referred to as stigma.Felt stigma refers to deep feelings of shame and self-loathing, and the expectation of discrimination. It can have serious negative impacts on the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV by discouraging them from getting tested, receiving support, or taking treatment. It may also lead people to engage in high-risk behaviours that harm their health, and contribute to new HIV infections.Enacted stigma is the experience of unfair treatment by others. For people living with HIV this can be in the form of being treated differently and poorly, or through rejection, abuse, or discrimination.HIV stigma is particularly harmful when it overlaps with other factors that are stigmatised such as if a person uses drugs, is a sex worker, is trans or gender diverse.Breaking down stigma is a community response where:
If you have experienced stigma or discrimination from a health care provider, and are unable to resolve your complaint with them directly, contact the Health Complaints Commissioner
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The Importance Of Testing For Hiv & Aids
The St. Maarten AIDS Foundation urges everyone to know his or her HIV status. Finding out your status is easier and faster than ever before. A simple HIV test, done through a small finger prick, is all it takes for you to be sure of where you stand. Results are available in 15 minutes and is performed confidentially.
Knowing your status means taking control of you health. Take advantage of the Free and Anonymous HIV testing offered by St. Maarten AIDS Foundation and by our sister organizations on the French side.
For our next Testing Day information, .
For information on testing on the French side, .
What Do The Results Mean
If your result is negative, it can mean you don’t have HIV. A negative result may also mean you have HIV but it’s too soon to tell. It can take a few weeks for HIV antibodies and antigens to show up in your body. If your result is negative, your health care provider may order additional HIV tests at a later date.
If your result is positive, you will get a follow-up test to confirm the diagnosis. If both tests are positive, it means you have HIV. It does not mean you have AIDS. While there is no cure for HIV, the disease can be effectively controlled with medicine. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can significantly reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. People with HIV who take ART before the disease gets too advanced can live long, healthy lives. If you are living with HIV, it’s important to see your health care provider regularly.
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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.
Modest Reduction In Length Of Stay
Commenting on the study for theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology, Nicholas Mills, MD, British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiology, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, explained that many centers are already using pathways that use a single high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T test at presentation to rule out myocardial infarction, although practice varies across the world and some centers continue to use serial troponin testing.
“The AROMI investigators are to be congratulated for conducting a large, multicenter, randomized trial to address this question, as often the use of early rule-out pathways have been based on observational studies alone. These trials are really important to help us understand the true impact of accelerated diagnosis on care and to ensure it is safe for patients,” Mills said.
“Using copeptin in the prehospital setting is an interesting idea, but patients still had to undergo troponin testing in the hospital to rule out MI so the reduction in length of stay was modest,” he noted, and he questioned whether a reduction in length of stay of less than an hour is sufficient to invest in the prehospital analysis platforms.
Also commenting for theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology, James Januzzi, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, noted that many centers are now adopting the ESC 0/1-hour protocol for troponin measurement, which can rule out MI in lower-risk individuals in 1 hour after hospital arrival.
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