What Happens If My Test Is Positive
If you test positive for HIV, it is important to remember that with treatment you can live a long, healthy life. In fact, with early treatment, people with HIV can live about as long as people that are not infected.
A team approach will help you get the medical care and support that you need. Start by talking to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site. He or she can help you with suggestions on how to talk to your parents or guardians and how to find a health care provider who’s an HIV specialist. By starting treatment as soon as possible, you can stay healthy and learn to live well with HIV.
Recommendations For Hiv Testing
The purpose of this chapter is to make recommendations on who should be tested for HIV, and at what interval. The chapter also presents recommendations for increasing opportunities to offer HIV testing by integrating HIV testing with testing services for related infections and explores other possible occasions that evidence suggests may be effective in identifying undiagnosed cases. Additional provider and client resources, other HIV testing guidelines, and guidelines for HIV testing in specific contexts are provided in Chapter Five.
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 Do I Know If I Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant tell if you have HIV just by the way you feel, because most people who get HIV dont have any symptoms for years.
Testing is a good idea if youve had unprotected sex or if your partner tests positive for HIV. You should also get tested if youve shared needles with anybody . If youre pregnant, get tested for HIV at your first prenatal visit.
Luckily, HIV testing is pretty easy and painless. The best part about getting tested for HIV? Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have HIV, its best to find out right away so you can take medicines to help you stay healthy and lower your chances of spreading HIV to others.
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. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. An undetectable viral load is a level of HIV in the blood so low that it cant be detected in a standard lab test.
- If you test negative, you have more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before, like pre-exposure prophylaxis , medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use, and post-exposure prophylaxis , HIV medicine taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure to prevent the virus from taking hold.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout your pregnancy and childbirth and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be less than 1%. HIV medicine will protect your own health as well.
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How Is Hiv Treated
The standard treatment for HIV is a combination of medicines called Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy . Anti-retroviral medicines slow the rate at which the virus multiplies. Taking these medicines can reduce the amount of virus in your body and help you stay healthy.
It may not be easy to decide the best time to start treatment. There are pros and cons to taking HAART before you have symptoms. Discuss these with your doctor so you understand your choices.
First, to determine the best treatment regimen, your doctor may order an HIV Genotype test. Next, to monitor the HIV infection and its effect on your immune system, or to check on your response to therapy, a doctor may order these tests:
- Viral Load, which shows the amount of virus in your blood.
- CD4+ Cell Count, which shows you how well your immune system is working.
If you have no symptoms and your CD4+ cell count is at a healthy level, you may not need treatment yet. Your doctor will repeat the tests on a regular basis to see how you are doing. If you have symptoms, you should consider starting treatment, whatever your CD4+ count is.
After you start treatment, it is important to take your medicines exactly as directed by your doctor. When treatment doesn’t work, it is often because HIV has become resistant to the medicine. This can happen if you don’t take your medicines correctly. Ask your doctor if you have questions about your treatment.
To stay as healthy as possible during treatment:
How Can You Prevent Hiv
HIV can be spread by people who don’t know they are infected. To protect yourself and others:
- Practice safe sex. Use a condom every time you have sex until you are sure you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
- Don’t have more than one sex partner at a time. The safest sex is with one partner who has sex only with you.
- Talk to your partner before you have sex the first time. Find out if he or she is at risk for HIV.
- Get tested together and retested 6 months later. Use condoms in the meantime.
- Don’t drink a lot of alcohol or use illegal drugs before sex. You might let down your guard and not practice safe sex.
- Don’t share personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors.
- Never share needles or syringes with anyone.
Sonora Quest Laboratories is committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS, supporting various programs and fund-raising events through The Apothecary Shops, Aunt Ritas Foundation, the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, and the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS. Our expansive HIV test offerings allow us to assist doctors and patients in all stages of the disease.
To learn more about HIV/AIDS, talk with your doctor, go to your local health department, or visit:
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Why Do I Need An Hiv Test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. You may also need an HIV test if you are at higher risk for infection. HIV is mainly spread through sexual contact and blood, so you may be at a higher risk for HIV if you:
- Are a man that has had sex with another man
- Have had sex with an HIV-infected partner
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have injected drugs, such as heroin, or shared drug needles with someone else
HIV can spread from mother to child during birth and through breast milk, so if you are pregnant your doctor may order an HIV test. There are medicines you can take during pregnancy and delivery to greatly reduce your risk of spreading the disease to your baby.
What If Your Test Result Is Positive
Most HIV tests are antibody tests. If you use any type of antibody test and have a positive test result, you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results.
- If you had a rapid screening test at a community testing program or other location, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure your initial test result was correct.
- If you used a self-testing kit at home, you should go to a health care provider for a follow-up test. A positive HIV test result must always be confirmed by additional HIV testing performed in a health care setting.
- If you had a blood test in a health care setting or a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same blood sample as the first test.
If your follow-up test is also positive, it means you have HIV.
After you are diagnosed with HIV, your health care provider’s office or clinic will provide post-test counselling to help you understand the next steps, including the importance of starting HIV treatment as soon as possible. HIV treatment involves taking highly effective medicines that work to control the virus. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you dont have health insurance or you need help because your insurance doesnt pay for the treatment you need, there are state, federal, and private resources that may help you.
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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
Does Hiv Always Show Up On Testing
No, if someone was recently infected, it might not show up with testing. How quickly HIV shows up on testing depends on the type of test done:
- Testing that looks for the virus itself can find HIV 728 days after infection.
- Testing that looks for HIV antibodies can find HIV antibodies 312 weeks after infection.
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Importance Of Hiv Testing For Prevention Of Hiv Infection
People with HIV who know their status can get HIV treatment and remain healthy for many years. Studies show that the sooner people start HIV treatment after diagnosis, the more they benefit. HIV treatment reduces the amount of HIV in the blood , reduces HIV-related illness, and prevents transmission to others. People with HIV who take HIV treatment as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load will not transmit HIV to their sex partners.
People who get tested and learn they dont have HIV can make decisions about sex, drug use, and health care that can help prevent prevent HIV. Taking HIV medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis is highly effective for preventing HIV.
Are Home Hiv Tests Accurate
Home tests are an accurate way to test for HIV. However, they may take longer to detect the virus after exposure than tests performed at a doctors office.
HIV antibody levels in saliva are lower than HIV antibody levels in the blood.
The at-home test is an antibody-only test. It does not test for HIV antigen, which is typically included in a fourth-generation HIV test done at a hospital or doctors office. However, Everlywells at-home HIV test is also a fourth-generation test and does detect antigens, so it may be the most reliable at-home option.
Simply stated, most rapid HIV tests are less accurate than medical office tests because can detect infection sooner. The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test may not detect HIV as quickly as a blood test would.
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Other Factors Influencing Hiv Transmission Risk
Within each route of transmission, estimates of the risk of transmission vary widely, likely due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors. Viral load appears to be an important predictor of transmission, regardless of route of transmission. However, the evidence indicates that viral load is not the only determinant, and other co-factors, such as the presence of co-infections, play a role in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
The strongest predictor of sexual transmission of HIV is plasma viral load . A dose-response relationship has been observed, where each ten-fold increase in plasma VL resulted in an increased relative risk of transmission of 2.5 to 2.9 per sexual contact. The concentration of HIV in genital secretions also plays a major role in sexual transmission. While there is a strong correlation between HIV concentrations in plasma and in genital secretions, some studies have found genital tract HIV shedding in 20% to 30% of men and women without detectable plasma viral load. Much of what is known about the impact of viral load on the sexual transmission of HIV is derived from studies of heterosexual populations. Very little is known about the relationship between HIV viral load and rate of transmission through anal intercourse.
Hiv Testing In A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you take a test in a health care setting or a lab, a health care provider or lab technician will take a sample of your blood or oral fluid. If its a rapid test , you may be able to wait for the results, but if its a laboratory test, it can take several days for your results to be available. Your health care provider or counselor may talk with you about your risk factors, answer any questions you might have, and discuss next steps with you, especially if your rapid test result is positive.
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had an exposure during the window period for the test you took, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your HIV test result is positive, the lab will conduct follow-up testing, usually on the same sample as the first.
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Tests For Hiv And Aids
Blood tests are the most common way to diagnose the human immunodeficiency virus , the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . These tests look for antibodies to the virus that are present in the blood of infected individuals. People exposed to the virus should get tested immediately.
Early testing is crucial with HIV. If you test positive for the virus, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan to help fight HIV and ward off complications. Early testing also can alert you to avoid high-risk behavior that could spread the virus to others.
Because it can take from six weeks to six months to develop antibodies to the virus, follow-up tests may be needed. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history and risk factors and perform a physical examination.
The primary tests for diagnosing HIV and AIDs include:
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Who Should Be Tested For Hiv And How Frequently
It is recommended that the consideration of HIV testing be made a component of routine care. In general, care providers should take an active approach to HIV testing, offering HIV testing to clients whether or not clients have asked for a test. In the provision of routine medical care, and in discussion with the client, care providers should consider whether there is a benefit to an HIV test.
HIV testing is associated with several advantages:
- a negative test result is an opportunity for clients to take an active role in remaining HIV negative
- the early detection of HIV, especially at the acute stage, can improve outcomes for individuals and prevent further transmission of HIV
- detection at any stage of the disease, prior to wasting and dementia, is an opportunity to initiate lifesaving treatment and other related healthcare services
- opportunities arise for conversations with clients about risk-reduction strategies
2.1.1 Testing recommendations
An in-depth comprehensive HIV behavioural risk assessment is not a requirement for offering an HIV test. An assessment that the client understands how HIV is transmitted, the implications of testing , and how to interpret the test results is sufficient.
For occasions when clients may not be able to accurately estimate their risk, the guide includes more detailed guidance in Appendix B for conducting rapid risk assessments and a more detailed technical review of HIV transmission risks can be found in Appendix C.
2.1.2 Couples testing
Terms And Technologies Used In Hiv Testing
This section provides detailed definitions and descriptions of the terms and technologies used in HIV testing.
Algorithms for HIV testing have been developed to ensure optimal sensitivity while preserving specificity by confirming reactive results as antibody-positive. The test sequence starts with the most sensitive screening test to identify all those with antibodies. A confirmatory assay is then performed only on the samples that tested reactive/positive on the initial screening test. This ensures that the screen test reaction is due to detection of HIV antibodies rather than a non-specific reaction. In the case of indeterminate or inconclusive results, additional supplementary testing may be necessary to determine if someone is infected with HIV. Each laboratory develops and validates its own algorithm to ensure that it provides the most accurate results possible. The positive predictive value and negative predictive value of a validated algorithm are close to 100%.
A typical laboratory testing algorithm follows:
Figure 3: Laboratory Testing Algorithm
A typical laboratory testing algorithm starts by screening with an enzyme immune assay test. If the EIA is non-reactive, then no HIV infection is present and no further testing is done.
If the initial EIA is reactive, then the EIA test should be repeated two additional times. If neither of the additional EIA tests is reactive, then the test is considered non-reactive, with no evidence of HIV infection.