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.
Where Can People Find More Information About Hiv Testing
There are several resources for people interested about the facts of HIV testing.
- The national HIV, STD, and hepatitis testing site Get Tested helps visitors find free, fast, and confidential testing.
The CDC web site is also an excellent source of information: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/testing.html.
There Are Several Types Of Hiv Test This Website Can Help You Learn More About Different Types Of Hiv Test Here Are The Basic Types Of Test:
HIV Antibody Tests Antibody tests do not detect the HIV-virus itself, but detect a protein called an antibody, which is produced by your body in response to the virus. Antibodies are produced by the immune system after it has had time to react to the new infection, which means antibodies are not detectable in the blood or saliva immediately. The window period for antibody-only tests is about 1 month on average, but can take up to 3 months in some people.
Rapid HIV Tests There are several types of rapid test for HIV, all of which are antibody-only tests. Rapid tests are point-of-care tests . These tests use either saliva or a small amount of blood and provide a result within 30 minutes. Madison Clinic uses a rapid test that takes a few drops of blood and provides a result in less than 60 seconds. The advantage of using a rapid test is that you dont have to wait to get the results however, because a rapid test has a longer window period than other tests and because it is a point-of-care test which is more subject to error in its use than a laboratory test, it is recommended that people getting a rapid HIV test also get a standard laboratory test to confirm the results.
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Types Of Hiv Tests And Their Window Periods
- Nucleic Acid Test A NAT can usually tell you if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure
- Antigen/Antibody TestAn antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antigen/antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick take longer to detect HIV .
- Antibody TestAn antibody test can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after an exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
Ask your health care provider or test counselor about the window period for the test youre taking and whether you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results. If youre using a self-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. Remember, you can only be sure you are HIV-negative if:.
- Your most recent test is after the window period
- You havent had a potential HIV exposure during the window period. If you do have an exposure, then you will need to be retested.
Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home HIV tests are a convenient way to take an HIV test in a private location. Testing for HIV at home is a form of HIV screening that requires additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home HIV tests can be obtained online, at a pharmacy, or at health departments and community-based organizations.
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Human Immunodeficiency Virus2 Diagnosis
The possibility of human immunodeficiency virus 2 infection should be entertained in patients with the following risk factors:
Illness characteristic of HIV infection despite negative HIV-1 test result
West African origin
Sex partners or needle-sharing partners of a person known to be infected with HIV-2 or who is not infected but is from an HIV-2endemic area
Children born to women with HIV-2 or who have risk factors for HIV-2 infection
Persons who have participated in a HIV-vaccine trial or have receive blood products or a nonsterile injection in HIV-2endemic areas
People with unusual HIV-1 Western blot indeterminate patterns
Can You Use The Hiv Antibody Test To Detect Hiv In Newborns
No. Because maternal antibodies are transferred from mother to baby and stay in the newborn’s system for 6-12 months, a different test must be used. A test that detects the genetic material, either an HIV RNA or HIV DNA test, is required.
Conditions: HIV Infection and AIDS
Screening: Pregnancy, Newborns, Teens, Young Adults, Adults, Adults 50 and Up
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What Types Of Tests Diagnose Hiv
To diagnose HIV, healthcare providers can order any of three tests:
- Nucleic acid test: The NAT test looks for the virus in your blood. It is a thorough laboratory test but can be costly. The results can take several days to receive.
- Antigen/antibody test: This test looks for antibodies and antigens to HIV in your blood. Your immune system forms antibodies when it comes in contact with viruses, such as HIV. Antigens, however, are foreign substances that activate your immune system. HIV has a particular antigen that this test can find. This rapid test uses a drop of blood from a finger prick and can give you results in roughly 30 minutes.
- HIV antibody test: This test is similar to the antigen/antibody test, but it only looks for the antibody. Just like the antigen/antibody test, this test produces results in around 30 minutes. It uses either a drop of blood from a finger prick or a swab of saliva.
Some states allow for home testing. There are two types of home tests:
- Rapid self-test: The only rapid self-test available in the United States uses a saliva sample to check for infection. After you receive your kit, you swab your gums and use the test kit to get results.
- Mail-in self-test: This test uses a blood sample from a simple finger prick. All of the supplies are in the kit to help you take the sample, package it and send it to the lab. A healthcare provider will tell you the results.
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.
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Black African Men And Women
Black African men and women are advised to have an HIV test and a regular HIV and STI screen if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.
You can reduce your risk of getting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by:
- always using a condom correctly and consistently, and until all partners have had a sexual health screen
- reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships
Unprotected sex with partners believed to be of the same HIV status is unsafe. For the HIV positive person, there is a high risk of acquiring other STIs and hepatitis. For the HIV negative person, there is a high risk of acquiring HIV infection as well as of acquiring STIs and hepatitis.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and British HIV Association have published guidelines on HIV testing:
How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of an HIV test is usually covered by insurance without a copay, although specific costs depend on a persons insurance coverage and where the test is performed. Check with your health plan and health care provider for specific cost details.
At-home HIV tests cost below $50. Health departments and community-based organizations may provide HIV self-test kits for free or at a reduced cost.
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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 . Your health care provider can determine the appropriate HIV test for you. 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 the 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.
Who Should Get An Hiv Test
The CDC recommends that everyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.
You should be tested more often — at least once a year — if youâre at higher risk of getting HIV, including if you:
- Have had several sexual partners
- Had unprotected sex with someone who is or could be HIV-positive, including someone whose sexual history you don’t know
- Injected drugs with a needle, syringe, or other device that someone else used first
- Have had or are getting tested for tuberculosis, hepatitis, or any sexually transmitted disease, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes
- Have had sex for drugs or money
- Had sex with someone who has a history of any of these
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How Accurate Is An Hiv Test What Is The Window Period For An Hiv Test
The current testing protocols are highly accurate but not perfect. The probability of a false result on the test depends on the test and on the person’s risk factors for getting infected. The lower the risk of getting HIV, the higher the probability of a false- positive result.
Falsely negative tests occur in people who are truly infected with HIV but have negative tests. Among 1,000 people who are truly infected, rapid tests will be falsely negative in zero to six people, depending on the test. Negative antibody tests in people infected with HIV may occur because antibody concentrations are low or because antibodies have not yet developed. On average, antibodies take about four weeks to reach detectable levels after initial infection, and falsely negative tests may occur during this so-called HIV window period. Individuals with negative tests and who had high risk for HIV exposure should be retested in two to three months.
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When Can Each Test Be Used
Viral load can sometimes be detected within a week, p24 on average by day 16 and antibodies by day 25. However, these are average results a lot of people take longer.
A test that misses half of infections is not very useful.
So a 4th generation antigen/antibody test is recommend four weeks after exposure because it will detect 95% of infections.
Validating the timing of viral load , p24 and antibodies is difficult. Tests can only be checked against blood samples from the same people before and after infection. These are usually people who regularly donate blood .
Some of these people catch HIV without knowing it. When this picked up in blood screening, these samples are used for testing new HIV tests.
This is why it is impossible to give the percentage chance that a test will be accurate for each day. The tests have been checked on a limited number of samples. These sample reflect the large range of individual responses.
On average, viral load tests with a cut-off of 50 copies/mL detect infection about 7 days before a p24 antigen test and 12 days before an antibody test.
These relative times are only used when comparing new tests. They are not good at setting an absolute cut off at 14 days or 19 or 41 days etc.
Figure 13 shows the time ranges after an exposure. Very rarely an antibody response may take longer. Even more rarely an infection may not make antibodies. These people have positive viral RNA and DNA.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know
HIV infection cannot be cured, but early diagnosis allows for treatment with antiretroviral therapy that can help to suppress levels of virus in the body and greatly improve long-term health. People typically take at least three drugs from two different classes in order to prevent or minimize virus replication and the emergence of drug-resistant strains. Combinations of three or more antiretroviral drugs are referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against HIV, but avoiding high-risk activities such as having unprotected sex and sharing needles for injecting drugs can help to prevent its spread. Early diagnosis of HIV infection is important to prevent its transmission to others and to allow evaluation, monitoring, and early treatment of the affected person.
While there is no vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend that individuals without HIV infection but at high risk for it consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis , a daily pill to help prevent infection. For people taking PrEP consistently, the risk of HIV infection was up to 92% lower compared to those who didn’t take it.
Healthcare workers can protect themselves from HIV infection by following universal precautions, such as wearing gloves and avoiding needle sticks.
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Hiv Strains And Types
- There are two main types of HIV HIV-1 and HIV-2 .
- Like many viruses, HIV has the ability to mutate and change over time – within the main types of HIV there are many genetically distinct subgroups.
- Tests to diagnose HIV and monitor the level of virus in the body that are sensitive to the full range of subtypes do exist, but may not be readily available in all settings.
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 your sample . 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 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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