What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv How Is Hiv Diagnosed
To diagnose HIV, the doctor will need:
Testing for HIV involves:
- a confirmatory test
For the screening test, either blood is obtained from a finger or a vein, or a urine sample or oral swab is taken. The results can be obtained on the same day or may take a few days.
If the result of the screening test is positive, the results are again confirmed by a special test called a Western blot or indirect immunofluorescence assay test. The confirmatory test is necessary because the screening test is not considered to be very accurate.
The first step is usually a screening test that looks for antibodies against the HIV. Specimens for testing come from blood obtained from a vein or a finger stick, an oral swab, or a urine sample. Results can come back in minutes or can take several days, depending on the method that is used. If the screening HIV test is positive, the results are confirmed by a special test called a Western blot or indirect immunofluorescence assay test.
A Western blot detects antibodies to specific components of the virus. The confirmatory test is necessary because the screening test is less accurate and occasionally will be positive in those who do not have HIV.
If the confirmatory test results come back as positive, the person has a 99% likelihood of being infected with HIV.
What Do I Need To Know About Dating With Hiv
Some people feel like their love lives are over when they find out they have HIV, but its just not true. People with HIV can have fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships. People living with HIV can have relationships with partners who dont have HIV or with partners that are also living with HIV . HIV treatment helps keep you healthy and helps you avoid passing HIV to someone else. If your partner does not have HIV, they can also take a medicine called PrEP that can help protect them from getting HIV through sex.
Its important to tell your sexual partners about your HIV status. That way, you and your partners can make more informed decisions about safer sex, testing, and treatment that are right for the both of you.
Its normal to be worried about how your partners going to react. And theres no way around it: some people might get freaked out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about your plan to stay healthy and how they can stay HIV negative. It might help to give your partner a little time and space to process. You could also suggest they talk with your HIV doctor about ways to protect themselves from HIV.
If you tell someone you have HIV and they hurt you, shame you, or make you feel bad, its not ok. You deserve to be with someone who respects and cares about you, and there are plenty of people out there who will.
Dont Explain Dont Apologize
Remember that you have a virus, not a bunch of dead bodies buried under the barn. Being an HIV positive single and wanting to meet other HIV positive singles is not illegal and you dont have to apologize for anything to anyone. Explaining, justifying yourself or apologizing for the fact you are HIV positive will only make you feel like a lesser person and your partner or your date will sense that. Dont let anyone make you feel bad about being HIV positive, ever.
Read Also: How Long Can I Live With Hiv
Understanding Quality Of Life For People Living With Hiv
There was a time when HIV care focused solely on suppressing the virus. As HIV care has evolved, the focus has moved away from surviving HIV to living and ageing well with HIV, with improved quality of life being the desired goal.
To help support people living with HIV to live long, happy, healthy lives, its important to understand the challenges people face and how they impact their quality of life.
Positive Perspectives is a global study that shines light on the experiences and aspirations of 2,389 people living with HIV aged 1884 from 25 countries. It investigates how people living with HIV rate their health and how living with HIV impacts their lives and affects their outlook for the future. The study also examines their experiences with antiretrovial therapy and the interactions and relationships people living with HIV have with healthcare professionals.
It focusses on these key themes:
*Defined in Positive Perspectives as taking five or more pills a day or taking medicines for five or more health conditions.
How Hiv Is Diagnosed
An HIV-positive diagnosis means that tests have confirmed the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus in your body. It is a process in which a preliminary test is accompanied by one or more confirmatory tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
There are several tests commonly used to diagnose HIV:
- Antibody tests, also known as enzyme-linked immunoassay tests, are blood- or saliva-based tests that detect antibodies produced by your body in response to HIV. These include traditional blood-based tests that can take several days to return results or rapid saliva-based tests that can return results within 30 minutes.
- Combination antibody/antigen tests, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , are blood-based tests that detect both antibodies and a protein on the surface of the virus called p24 .
- In-home HIV tests are antibody tests that require either a finger-prick blood sample or a swab of saliva from your mouth. The finger-prick option is a mail-in test that are processed in a lab, while the saliva-based option can return results at home within 20 to 40 minutes.
A positive result with any of these tests would require confirmation using one or more blood-based lab tests recommended by the CDC .
When confirmed with the appropriate tests, a positive result can be considered definitive evidence of an HIV infection.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Hiv From Spit
Other Ways Hiv May Affect Your Life
- you will not be able to donate blood or organs
- you will not be able to join the armed forces
- you may have difficulty getting life insurance to cover a mortgage loan but life insurance is not compulsory when taking out a mortgage unless it’s an endowment mortgage, and there are now specialist life insurance policies for people with HIV
How To Tell Your Partner Youre Hiv Positive
If you are one of the many HIV positive singles out there, you are already painfully aware of how difficult it can be to get into the dating game again. Dating definitely comes with a set of challenges. At some point after you were diagnosed, you probably felt that you could never, ever date again and that no one ever will want you. Hopefully, you are over that sort of pessimism now since love waits for no one and your potential soulmate might be just around the corner.
So, you get back in the game and start dating again. Unless you used some of the terrific dating sites for people with HIV, where full disclosure is the general policy, the question of how and when to tell your date about your HIV status is probably eating you out right now. We understand since it definitely is a tough question. However, the problem is not impossible to solve.
Also Check: Can Hiv Spread Through Oral
Who May Not Need To Know
In the US, people with disabilities, including HIV, are protected from job discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act . However, it is important that you think carefully before disclosing your HIV status at work. You do not have to tell your employer that you are living with HIV. If you have not had any HIV-related symptoms or illnesses and are not on medications that are affecting your job performance, there is probably no need to tell.
If HIV or your medications are interfering with your ability to work, it may be a good idea to privately disclose your status to your boss. You can ask for an adjustment in your schedule or workload so that you can continue to do your job. Because the law considers a person living with HIV to be disabled, your employer must adjust your job if you can otherwise perform the most important parts of the job.
If you are planning to disclose at work for employee or benefits purposes , contact an employee benefits counselor or an HIV or legal advocate before disclosing. For more information, see our fact sheet on Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities in the Workplace in the US.
Ask Them To Accompany You To Your Doctor Or Clinic
They can have all their questions professionally answered, and get tested. They can also learn how to best protect themselves, whether one or both of you is HIV-positive. If you are both infected, you still need to use condoms, as there is risk of reinfection.
The newest drug, Truvada, is encouraged for discordant couples, where one of you is HIV-positive and the other is not, and is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, says Professor McIntosh.
Read Also: How Hiv Affects The Immune System
Telling A Date Or Partner
Revealing that you have HIV to someone youre about to come into sexual contact with is hard. It can be more difficult than telling your friends and family.
But were living in the U equals U era, when most researchers agree that an undetectable viral load means the virus is untransmittable. Although many people understand this, there are still people who may be worried or unsure about having sexual contact with someone who lives with HIV.
Keep the following in mind when making your decision to disclose your positive status to a partner:
- Prepare yourself with the facts. Learn as much as you can about HIV treatments and prevention methods to answer any questions that may arise.
- Support works both ways. If necessary, encourage them to get tested and offer to go with them.
- Whether this is someone you plan to be with long-term, or just a casual encounter, its important that you make any sexual partners aware of your status.
- Relax and share the information as if youre the one who has to hear it. Put yourself in their shoes and envision how youd want to be told if it were the other way around.
- Reassure your date or partner that you follow a healthy lifestyle, adhere to your medication, and actively see a healthcare provider.
- Remember, HIV is not a death sentence.
Letter: Telling My Family About My Hiv Status
To Everyone Living with HIV,
My name is Joshua and I was diagnosed with HIV on June 5, 2012. I remember sitting in the doctors office that day staring blankly at the wall as a wide array of questions and emotions rushed through me.
Im no stranger to health challenges, but HIV was different. Im a survivor of necrotizing fasciitis and dozens of hospitalizations due to cellulitis, all unrelated to my HIV status. My greatest pillar of strength during those health struggles was my family. But looking to my family for support was harder with HIV because of the burden of shame that I felt came with this diagnosis.
From my point of view, my diagnosis wasnt simply due to a bout of unlucky circumstances. I felt it was due to choices I had made. I had chosen not to use a condom and to have multiple sexual partners without thinking about the possible consequences. This diagnosis wouldnt affect me alone. I thought about how it would affect my family, and I questioned if I should tell them at all.
I know now that many people find it difficult to disclose their HIV status to their family. Our family members are often the people closest to us. They may be the ones whose opinions we tend to hold at a higher value. A rejection from a friend or potential lover may hurt, but a rejection from our own blood can be extremely painful.
From my point of view, here are a few things I suggest keeping in mind as you contemplate disclosing your HIV status:
You May Like: What Does The Hiv Virus Look Like
Talking To Your Main Partner
If you are in a relationship, one of the first things you will probably think about after learning that you have HIV is telling your partner or partners. For some couples, a positive HIV test may have been expected. For others, the news will be a surprise that can be difficult.
Your partner may not be prepared to offer you support during a time when you need it. Your partner may be worrying about their own HIV status. On the other hand, if you think you may have contracted HIV from your partner, you are probably dealing with your own feelings.
Unless your partner is known to have HIV infection, they should get an HIV test right away. Don’t assume that the results will come back positive, even if you have been having unprotected sex or sharing needles. Your partner may assume the worst and may blame you for possibly spreading the disease. It is important that you discuss these feelings with each other in an open and honest way, perhaps with a licensed counselor.
Does The Law Say I Have To Tell My Partner About My Hiv Status
If youre having protected sex theres no law saying you must tell your partners that you have HIV. Its your choice whether you tell them or not.
However, in England and Wales theres a risk of being prosecuted for reckless transmission of HIV if:
- you had sex with someone who didnt know you had HIV
- you knew you had HIV at that time
- you understood how HIV is transmitted
- you had sex without a condom, and
- you transmitted HIV to that person.
The law in Scotland is largely the same, except that a case can also be brought if transmission hasnt taken place but someone has been put at risk of transmission without their consent or knowledge.
Read Also: Who Was The First Person To Get Hiv
Sex Or Injection Partners
Telling your partners that you have HIV before you have sex or inject drugs may be uncomfortable. But doing so protects you under the law. It also allows your partners to make decisions that can protect their health.
You should also tell your current or former partners if youve been diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease . This lets them know that they should also get tested for other STDs.
There are a few ways to let your partners know:
You tell your partners.
- These conversations can be hard. You may have been exposed to HIV by one of your partners, or you may have exposed one or more of them without knowing.
The health department tells your partners.
- This is sometimes called Partner Services.
- Health department staff tell your current and former partners that they may have been exposed to HIV.
- The health department will provide your partners with testing, counseling, and referrals for other services.
- Partner Services programs are available through health departments and some medical offices and clinics.
- Your health care provider, social worker, case manager, patient navigator, or HIV testing center can help you find a Partner Services program.
Telling Sexual Partners About Hiv Status
Telling partners when you are in a relationshipMany people find it hard to tell a partner about their HIV status. While some people do react badly to news that their partner is HIV positive, others offer support. The views expressed here are of gay and Black African communities that we interviewed in 2005.
You May Like: Can Hiv Be Transmitted Through Eyes
Telling People You Have Hiv
While understanding and attitudes towards HIV have changed for the better over the years, sharing the fact that you are living with HIV also known as disclosure can still be challenging.
Telling your partner, friends or family members that you are HIV positive is not always easy, however providing them with us much information as possible and answering any questions they may have will make the conversation easier and clearer.
Explaining what the virus is and how it affects the body is a good place to start. Talking about treatment and the meaning of becoming undetectable also can alleviate some anxieties and concerns your partner, family or friends may have about your health and wellbeing.
Fortunately, family, partners and friends can also provide a great source of support and a network that can be there for you when you disclose your status to others. Who you decide to tell and the way in which you approach it is an individual decision, however here is a list of things that may help you when making that decision:
- Not everyone is fully informed or educated about HIV. Keep this in mind when you decide to disclose and consider sharing some insights so that the person gets a better understanding of what HIV means today.
- When you disclose, you have shared that information indefinitely. So if you think the person may not react well, perhaps rethink the decision or consider a better time to tell them.
What Else Should I Know
The two most important things you can do for your friend are to be there for support in whatever way feels natural and to keep your friend’s HIV diagnosis private. Just being there to hang out or eat lunch together can help keep things in perspective for everyone.
Life is for living. If friends know that you care about them for them â for the creative, smart, funny people they are â that can be the best thing you can do for a person living with any type of medical condition.
You May Like: How Long After Sex Should You Get Tested For Hiv