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.
The Healthcare Worker There To Help You
Before you test, your healthcare worker will talk to you about your sexual health and why youve decided to test. This is to help them understand your situation so they can offer you the best services and advice.
Remember, the healthcare professional is not there to judge you. There will be nothing you can say that they havent heard before so be honest with them, and ask as many questions as you want. Thats what theyre there for.
You should never feel pressured to test. The results will be completely confidential but you should only go through with it if you want to.
Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
Some people use drugs such as ice , GHB, ecstasy , ketamine and cocaine) to enhance their sexual experiences . Chemsex can make you lose your inhibitions and be risky if you:
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv
HIV has three notable phases, a primary stage which is shortly after infection. During the early stages of HIV, the signs and symptoms are vague. They are often misunderstood as warning signs for other common ailments. Some signs and symptoms of HIV during the early stages include:
- Some rashes appearing on the skin
- Fever and sore throat
- Joint and muscle pain
- Swelling of the lymph nodes.
As the Disease Progresses, Some Other Major Signs and Symptoms May become Noticeable. They may Include
- Extreme and unintended weight loss
- Swelling of lymph nodes lasting for weeks
- White spots appear in mouth and tongue
When You Should Take An Hiv Test
What testing service you should use, and which type of test, depends on when you might have been exposed to HIV. Signs of HIV infection dont show up in the blood right away. It normally happens within four weeks of infection, but can be longer.
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours , its possible to take post-exposure prophylaxis to help stop an infection from happening.
If your risk was recent, then your test provider will probably advise you to take a test immediately, followed by a second one a few weeks later. The second test will pick up any infection the first one may have missed.
If your risk was in the last three months, make sure you tell the person testing you, as it may affect the type of test youre given.
A self test is not guaranteed to pick up an infection thats occurred in the previous three months. If you think youve been exposed in the last three months, you should get a test in person.
Very occasionally it can take up to three months for antibodies to appear in the blood, so an HIV negative result is only totally accurate if three months have passed between the test and the last time a risk was taken. However, a negative result four to eight weeks after taking a risk is a very good sign that HIV infection hasnt happened.
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When Should You Get Tested For Hiv After Condomless Sex
Theres a window period between the time a person is first exposed to HIV and when it will show up on different types of HIV tests.
During this window period, a person may test HIV-negative even though theyve contracted HIV. The window period can last anywhere from ten days to three months, depending on your body and the type of test that youre taking.
A person can still transmit HIV to others during this period. In fact, transmission may even be more likely because there are higher levels of the virus in a persons body during the window period.
Here is a quick breakdown of different types of HIV tests and the window period for each.
What Are The Types Of Hiv Tests
There are three types of tests used to diagnose HIV infection: antibody tests, antigen/antibody tests, and nucleic acid tests . How soon each test can detect HIV infection differs, because each test has a different window period. The window period is the time between when a person may have been exposed to HIV and when a test can accurately detect HIV infection.
- Antibody tests check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid. HIV antibodies are disease-fighting proteins that the body produces in response to HIV infection. Most rapid tests and home use tests are antibody tests.
- Antigen/antibody tests can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in blood.
- NATs look for HIV in the blood.
A persons initial HIV test will usually be either an antibody test or an antigen/antibody test. NATs are very expensive and not routinely used for HIV screening unless the person had a high-risk exposure or a possible exposure with early symptoms of HIV infection.
When an HIV test is positive, a follow-up test will be conducted. Sometimes people will need to visit a health care provider to take a follow-up test. Other times the follow-up test may be performed in a lab using the same blood sample that was provided for the first test. A positive follow-up test confirms that a person has HIV.
Talk to your health care provider about your HIV risk factors and the best type of HIV test for you.
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When To Get Tested
Seek medical advice immediately if you think there’s a chance you could have HIV. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment and avoid becoming seriously ill.
Some HIV tests may need to be repeated 1-3 months after exposure to HIV infection, but you should not wait this long to seek help.
A GP or a sexual health professional can talk to you about having a test and discuss whether you should take emergency HIV medicine.
Anti-HIV medicine called post-exposure prophylaxis may stop you becoming infected if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to the virus.
What Are The Risks Of Getting Tested
If your test shows that you have HIV, your sex partner will need to know and get tested, which may affect your relationship.
If you have HIV, provincial law requires your doctor or the place where you had the test to report it to the provincial health authority. Some provinces allow anonymous reporting . Other provinces require confidential reporting .
With an ELISA test, you could have a false-positive test result, which shows that you have the disease when you actually don’t. This could cause you unneeded worry until you have more tests to confirm that you don’t have the disease.
Your doctor may want you to be tested if:
- You’re sexually active.
- You have never had an HIV test.
- You have a high risk for getting HIV.
- You’re pregnant.
What are the risks and side effects?
- You have a blood or saliva test or some other test.
- You may have a follow-up test to confirm the results of a positive test or to check again if you have a negative result.
- If the test shows that you have an infection, you can take steps to avoid spreading the disease to others.
- You can tell others so they can decide whether to be tested.
- If you’re pregnant, you can start treatment to avoid spreading the infection to your newborn.
- A test could find an infection early so you can start treatment and prevent or delay an HIV infection from progressing to AIDS.
- Getting tested may give you peace of mind.
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What Happens When You Go For A Test
Normally, testing involves taking a small sample of blood from your finger or your arm, or an oral swab. This is where you rub the testing pen along your gums to collect cells from your mouth.
How long it takes for HIV test results to come back will depend on the type of test you are taking. If youre taking a rapid test, you will be given your results within 20 minutes. Other types of tests will be sent to a laboratory and it may take between a few days and a few weeks for you to receive a final result.
Tests these days are very reliable, but if your result comes back positive, you should have a second confirmatory test to double check your result. If this is also positive, you will get an HIV diagnosis, after which you can start treatment.
Remember, HIV treatment these days is very effective and people with HIV can live long and healthy lives just like anyone else.
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.
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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.
How Do You Get Hiv
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. The most common way for someone to get it is through a sexual activity where you exchange bodily fluids. This activity includes vaginal, oral and anal sex. However, you can contract the virus in other ways, including:
- Sharing needles with an infected person to take drugs.
- Passing between a mother and her unborn child.
- Rarely, from a blood transfusion .
A lot of misinformation exists about how you can get HIV. You cannot contract HIV from:
- Air or water.
- Touch, such as shaking hands, hugging or social, closed-mouth kissing.
- Pets or insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks.
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Is Hiv Testing Necessary For Pregnant Women
HIV testing is critically important for pregnant women. HIV testing is recommended at the beginning of each pregnancy during prenatal care. If any HIV risk factors are present or there is a high incidence of HIV in the population, testing should be repeated in the third trimester. There have been enormous advances in the treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women. With proper management, the probability of transmitting the virus to the fetus is less than 2%. Without proper management, the risk of transmission is as high as 33%. Because undiagnosed HIV is so common, it is necessary to test all pregnant women. It is strongly recommended that all children born to women with HIV also be tested.
Who Is At Higher Risk And How You Can Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Hiv
Some populations are more affected by HIV than others. This is due to a mix of social and individual factors which affect a persons ability to avoid HIV infection and make decisions that keep them healthy.
Populations that are considered to be at a higher risk of getting HIV include:
- gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, including trans men
- African, Caribbean and Black communities including men and women from parts of Africa and the Caribbean where HIV is endemic
- Indigenous peoples
- people who inject drugs
- at-risk women , including trans women
You can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by:
- always using a condom when having sex
- not sharing needles or other drug using equipment
- using HIV medications
- Whether you have HIV or are at risk, HIV medications can reduce transmission of HIV if taken consistently and correctly.
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What Kind Of Hiv Tests Are There
Rapid HIV tests give you results in about 20 minutes. Other tests take longer because they need to be sent out to a lab. HIV tests are usually painless you just gently rub the inside of your cheek with a soft swab. Sometimes youll give a blood sample for testing.
You can test yourself for HIV using an at-home HIV testing kit. With the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, you swab your gums and test the sample yourself. You get results in 20 minutes. With the Home Access HIV-1 Test, you prick your finger to get a small amount of blood. You mail your blood sample to a lab, and get your results in about a week. At-home tests are totally anonymous you’re the only person who will know the results. And both types of tests help connect you with counselors who can give you support and advice about treatment if you test positive.
If a rapid HIV test at a clinic or a home test shows that you have HIV, get a follow-up test to make sure the results are correct.
How One Test Changed Hiv
1985 brought us the film “Back to the Future” and the first worldwide rock concert, Live Aid. It was also a time when people believed you could catch HIV from touching a doorknob, using a toilet seat or sharing a beverage with someone who had HIV.
This was an unparalleled scientific breakthrough in the speed and accuracy of detecting HIV in blood, at a time when fear was high and many myths prevailed. In the early 1980s, fatal, incurable AIDS was in the news regularly. People put off donating and receiving blood as well as undergoing necessary surgeries for fear they would contract the virus. The world was in a panic. Eventually researchers came to understand the virus was transmitted through certain body fluids, including blood, but a test was not available for screening blood, which put the blood supply at risk. At the time, in some U.S. cities an estimated 1 in 90 transfusions was infected with HIV.1
Picture from 1985 of Abbott scientists with the first HIV test kit, the Abbott HTLV-III. Scott Webber, Robin Gutierrez, George Dawson, John Heller.
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George Dawson says, “What was key to our success was that we approached everything systematically. We met daily, divided up the work, and then generated data during the daytime hours so that we could review it at the end of each day. We used this approach to resolve each hurdle.”
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What Are The Rapid Hiv Test Options
In the past, the only way to get tested for HIV was to go to a doctors office, hospital, or community health center. Now there are options for taking an HIV test in the privacy of ones own home.
Some HIV tests, whether taken at home or at a health facility, are even able to deliver results within 30 minutes. These are known as rapid tests.
Is Hiv Testing Confidential
Confidential testing means that your HIV test results will include your name and other identifying information, and the results will be included in your medical record. HIV-positive test results will be reported to local or state health departments to be counted in statistical reports. Health departments remove all personal information from HIV test results before sharing the information with CDC. CDC uses this information for reporting purposes and does not share this information with any other organizations, including insurance companies.
Anonymous testing means you dont have to give your name when you take an HIV test. When you take the test, you receive a number. To get your HIV test results, you give the number instead of your name.
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Should You Get Tested For Hiv If You Dont Think Youre At High Risk
Some people who test positive for HIV were not aware of their risk. That’s why CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors should get tested more often .
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship , you should find out for sure whether you or your partner has HIV.
Testing Outside Of The United States
Rapid tests that have been approved for HIV home testing outside of the United States include:
- Atomo HIV Self Test. This test is available in Australia and has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration , the countrys regulatory agency. It tests for HIV in 15 minutes.
- autotest VIH. This test is only available in certain parts of Europe. It tests for HIV in 15 to 20 minutes.
- BioSure HIV Self Test. This test is only available in certain parts of Europe. It tests for HIV in about 15 minutes.
- INSTI HIV Self Test. This test launched in the Netherlands in 2017 and can be purchased everywhere except the United States and Canada. It promises results within 60 seconds.
- Simplitude ByMe HIV Test. This test launched in July 2020 and is available in the United Kingdom and Germany. It tests for HIV in 15 minutes.
These particular tests all rely on a blood sample taken from the fingertip.
None of them have been FDA approved for use in the United States. However, the autotest VIH, BioSure, INSTI, and Simplitude ByMe kits all have CE marking.
If a product has CE marking, it complies with the safety, health, and environmental standards set forth by the European Economic Area .
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