When Should I Get Tested
Everyone has the right to have an HIV test in Canada. Some people get tested only once, while other people get tested more often. Talk to a healthcare provider about how often you should have an HIV test. In some regions of Canada, you may be routinely offered a test by a healthcare provider at your doctors office or at a hospital.
HIV can be transmitted during unprotected sex or by sharing drug use equipment .
Unprotected sex happens when no effective HIV prevention strategy is used. Effective strategies are condoms, HIV treatment and undetectable viral load for people with HIV, and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV-negative people. To learn more about these effective HIV prevention strategies, talk to a sexual health worker or a health service provider.
For information on how HIV is transmitted, check out How Does HIV Get Passed from One Person to Another?
Get a test if you:
- have had unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status you were unsure of
- are pregnant or planning to get pregnant
The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to have an HIV test.
Is There A Cure For Hiv
There is no cure for HIV. But if you acquire the virus, there are drugs that help suppress the level of HIV in the body and prevent its spread to other people. Doctors use a combination of drugs called HAART to treat HIV/AIDS. Although it is not a cure, HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths from HIV-related complications in the United States. HIV has become like a chronic disease, and people living with HIV receiving successful treatment can live a long and healthy life.
Talk With Your Hiv Health Care Provider
Talk with your health care provider about the benefits of HIV treatment and which HIV medication is right for you. Discuss how frequently you should get your viral load tested to make sure it remains undetectable.
If your lab results show that the virus is detectable or if you are having trouble taking every dose of your medication, you can still protect your HIV-negative partner by using other methods of preventing sexual transmission of HIV such as condoms, safer sex practices, and/or pre-exposure prophylaxis for an HIV-negative partner until your viral load is undetectable again.
Taking HIV medicine to maintain an undetectable viral load does not protect you or your partner from getting other sexually transmitted diseases , so talk to your provider about ways to prevent other STDs.
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What About Hiv Stigma
You might not be able to keep your HIV status secret. You could tell a family member and hope they can keep a secret, and find out 24 hours later theyve blabbed it to the whole world. HIV stigma is real. Some people dont understand HIV and are fearful of what they dont know. However, with the right education, youd be surprised how quickly people come around.
People youve known all your life might start treating you like a stranger. But thats not a sure thing. People who truly care for you will be there for you. The rest are not the kind of people you need in your life anyway, right?
Todays HIV drugs are so effective that they can keep someone living with HIV just as healthy as someone who is HIV negative. In fact, if someone takes their HIV meds as prescribed by their doctor, they can even reduce the amount of HIV in their blood to the point of being undetectable. Undetectable = untransmittable.
Using a condom and taking meds everyday make it impossible to pass the virus to other people. People living with HIV need to tell their partner about their status before they have sex. So this is useful to bring up in that conversation when things start heading towards the hot and heavy. Prep is a possibility too, as another barrier to keep HIV from transmitting to the negative partner.
But a lot of people just dont know these facts. Their thinking is stuck in the 1980s and early 1990s, before powerful anti-retroviral drugs and PrEP came on the scene.
Can Hiv Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent HIV is to not have sex with a person who has HIV, or share a needle with a person who has HIV. However, there is also a medicine called PrEP that people can take before coming into contact with HIV that can prevent them from getting an HIV infection.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is for people who are at long-term risk of getting HIV either through sexual activity or by injecting drugs. If youre taking PrEP and come into contact with HIV, the medicine makes it difficult for HIV to develop inside your body.
Other ways to prevent HIV include:
- When you have sex, practice safer sex by using a condom. The best condom is a male latex condom. A female condom is not as effective but does offer some protection.
- Do not share needles and syringes.
- Never let someone elses blood, semen, urine, vaginal fluid, or feces get into your anus, vagina, or mouth.
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Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your immune system strong. A heart-healthy diet can help prevent some of the problems, such as high cholesterol, that can be caused by treatment for HIV.footnote 24
- Learn how to deal with the weight loss that HIV infection can cause.
- Learn how to handle food properly to avoid getting a foodborne illness. For more information, see the topic Foodborne Illness and Safe Food Handling.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve the quality of your life. Take steps to help prevent HIV-related fatigue.
- Don’t smoke. People with HIV are more likely to have a heart attack or get lung cancer.footnote 25, footnote 26 Cigarette smoking can raise these risks even more.
- Don’t use illegal drugs. And limit your use of alcohol.
Why Should I Get Tested
Knowing your HIV status is very important for your health. Its also important for the health of your sexual partners and any people you share drug use equipment with.
If you are HIV positive, it is better for your health if you are diagnosed and start treatment as early as possible. With proper treatment and care, most people with HIV can stay healthy and live a long, full life.
In addition to the health benefits, successful treatment also means that people with HIV:
- can have healthy HIV-negative babies
- are less likely to transmit HIV if they share needles or other drug use equipment
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Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the bodys natural response to HIV infection.;
Flu-like symptoms can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.
Dont assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptomsthey can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.
Heres what to do:
How Do We Know Treatment As Prevention Works
Large research studies with newer HIV medications have shown that treatment is prevention. These studies monitored thousands of male-female and male-male couples in which one partner has HIV and the other does not over several years. No HIV transmissions were observed when the HIV-positive partner was virally suppressed. This means that if you keep your viral load undetectable, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to someone you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex with. Read about the scientific evidence.
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When To Give Rvs To An Infant With Hiv
Consultation with an immunologist or infectious disease specialist is advised, particularly for infants with HIV infection who have a low CD4 T lymphocyte cell percentage or count. Limited safety and efficacy data are available for the administration of RVs to infants who are potentially immunocompromised, including those with HIV infection.
What Does A Negative Hiv Test Result Mean
A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have HIV. That’s because of the window periodthe time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it. The window period varies from person to person and is also different depending upon the type of HIV test.
Ask your health care provider about the window period for the kind of test youre taking. If youre using a home test, you can get that information from the materials included in the tests package. If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period for the test youre using to be sure. To learn more about the window period and when a person should get retested, see CDCs How soon after an exposure to HIV can an HIV test if I am infected?. If you get an HIV test within 3 months after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again in 3 more months to be sure.
If you learned you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, you can only be sure youre still negative if you havent had a potential HIV exposure since your last test. If youre sexually active, continue to take actions to prevent HIV, like using condoms the right way every time you have sex and taking medicines to prevent HIV if youre at high risk.
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How Long Does It Take To See The Signs Of Hiv
The signs and symptoms of HIV may first appear within two to four weeks of infection. The stage in which the symptoms appear is called the stage of acute HIV infection. The symptoms appear due to the resistance or fight of the immune system against HIV. In the initial stage, the virus multiplies rapidly and spreads throughout the body. It targets and destroys the CD4 cells . As a result, the level of HIV in the blood and the chances of transmission at this stage are very high. It is crucial to recognize the early signs and seek medical help, since early diagnosis and treatment of HIV gets the best results.
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
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Suspected Or Known Exposure To Hiv But No Symptoms
If you have not been tested for HIV, call your doctor if:
- You suspect that you have been exposed to HIV.
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviour and are concerned that you were exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner engages in high-risk behaviour.
- Your sex partner may have been exposed to HIV.
- Your sex partner has HIV.
- You have any of the symptoms listed above.
Getting tested for HIV can be scary, but the condition can be managed with treatment. So it is important to get tested if you think you have been exposed.
Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a condom every time they have sex
- get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too
- reduce their number of sexual partners
- get tested and treated for STDs ; having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
- consider taking a medicine every day if they are at very high risk of getting infected
- Do not inject drugs or share any kind of needle.
- Do not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood.
- Do not touch anyone else’s blood from a cut or sore.
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How Often Should A Man Get Tested
Sexually active men should get routine tests for HIV.
Men who are sexually active should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of their routine health care.
The CDC recommend that everyone between the ages of should take an HIV test.
The CDC also recommend that people with specific risk factors should take a test at least once a year . This recommendation applies to gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men, and users of injectable drugs.
Besides these formal recommendations, everyone who may have been exposed to HIV or had sex without a condom should also take a test.
What Is Usually The First Sign Of Hiv
- Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes are a part of the bodys immune system that helps get rid of bacteria and viruses. An HIV infection, like many other infections, can cause the inflammation of lymph nodes, which can be felt as round or nodular swellings in the armpit, groin, and neck. The swelling is often associated with aches and pains in these areas.
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What Is Hiv What Is Aids
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defence system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV.
White blood cells are an important part of the immune system. HIV infects and destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body can no longer defend itself against infection.
The last stage of HIV infection is AIDS . People with AIDS have a low number of CD4+ cells and get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people. These can be deadly.
But having HIV doesn’t mean you have AIDS. Even without treatment, it takes a long time for HIV to progress to AIDSusually 10 to 12 years.
When HIV is diagnosed before it becomes AIDS, medicines can slow or stop the damage to the immune system. If AIDS does develop, medicines can often help the immune system return to a healthier state.
With treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives.
There are two types of HIV:
- HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide
- HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness. HIV-2 infection is uncommon in North America.
If I Am Pregnant And Have Hiv Will My Baby Also Have Hiv
Most women with HIV can protect their baby from becoming infected during pregnancy. Proper pre-natal treatment can reduce the risk that an HIV-positive mother will pass the virus to her child to less than 1 percent. The only way these special treatments can be provided is if the health care professionals know the mother is living with HIV. Treatment is most effective when started early in pregnancy. HIV-positive moms should not breastfeed their babies because HIV is sometimes passed this way.
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A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Katie Salerno/Flickr Creative Commons
Contracting other;sexually transmitted diseases can significantly increase the risk of getting HIV. For instance, some STDs like syphilis and herpes cause skin lesions that make it easier for HIV to enter the body.
STDs may also cause inflammation, which is something that is triggered by the body’s immune system. HIV preferentially infects defensive white blood cells, so when there are more of them around, it’s easier to contract HIV.
Having an STD like gonorrhea or syphilis means that you’ve engaged in unprotected sex, a key risk factor for HIV. So if you have been diagnosed with an STD, talk to your healthcare provider about how you can reduce your HIV risk.;