White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are a subset of cells produced in bone marrow whose primary role is to fight infection. A white blood cell count is one of the panel of tests included in the CBC that measures not only the total number of leukocytes but also the different types of white blood cells in a blood sample, namely:
Within the context of HIV, an elevated WBC typically means that your body is fighting an infection. Other tests can then be performed to pinpoint the cause.
An elevation of certain white blood cells may indicate a specific type of infection or an allergic inflammatory response. For example, higher than normal eosinophils may suggest a parasitic infection like toxoplasmosis, while elevated basophils can develop in people with a hypersensitive drug reaction.
CD4 T-cell lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that HIV preferentially targets and infects. For this reason, they serve as the primary marker of your immune status if you have HIV.
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.
What Does The Test Result Mean
A negative test for HIV antigen and/or HIV antibody usually indicates that a person does not have an HIV infection. A negative screening test means only that there is no evidence of disease at the time of the test, however. It is important for those who are at increased risk of HIV infection to have screening tests performed on a yearly basis to check for possible exposure to the virus.
HIV tests that detect only HIV antibody will not detect an HIV infection soon after exposure, during the window period before the development of antibodies. Most people produce detectable levels of antibody 3 to 12 weeks after exposure. If someone is screened with an HIV antibody test too soon, the result may be negative despite the fact that the person is infected . If an HIV antibody test is negative but suspicion of exposure remains high, then repeat testing using the HIV antigen/antibody blood test may be required.
If someone tests positive on both the initial screen and supplemental testing, then that person is considered to be infected with HIV.
The CDC recommends use of a new testing protocol to screen for and diagnose HIV infection. The following lists the steps and meaning of test results:
Two tests once commonly used to test for HIV, HIV-1 Western blot and HIV-1 immunofluorescence assay, are not included in this new protocol and should not be used since these tests detect antibody later in the infection and may give a false-negative result.
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What Are The Advantages Of A Rapid Hiv Test
The rapid test allows for testing of more individuals. According to the CDC, 1.2 million Americans have HIV, but up to one in eight don’t know it. About 44,000 Americans per year become infected with HIV. This number has decreased recently due, in part, to more testing. Among those who get tested using traditional methods, 31% of those who test positive do not return for their results .
People give a variety of reasons for not returning for their test results. The frequency of each response depends on the population being tested. The most commonly given reasons include the following:
- Fear of a positive result
- Lack of transportation
- Relocating to a new city
- Belief that they are at low risk for HIV and therefore the result will be negative
- Fear that their HIV status will be disclosed to someone else
Significant benefits of the rapid HIV test include the following:
Once important difference between the conventional laboratory test and rapid tests is the ability to detect very early or acute HIV infection. This is done with the addition of an HIV RNA PCR or NAT test. HIV RNA appears in the blood within the first few days of infection. If the antibody test is negative but the NAT is positive, this may indicate that the patient is very newly infected. NAT testing is also used to confirm a positive result of the third- or fourth-generation test. Western Blot testing is no longer routinely used.
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.
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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.
What Is It Used For
An HIV test is used to find out if you have been infected with HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . Most people with HIV don’t have AIDS. People with AIDS have an extremely low number of immune cells and are at risk for life-threatening illnesses, including dangerous infections, a severe type of pneumonia, and certain cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.
If HIV is found early, you can get medicines to protect your immune system. HIV medicines may prevent you from getting AIDS.
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Hiv Testing Outside Of A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you are tested outside of a health care setting or lab you will likely receive a rapid HIV test
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had a possible exposure during the previous 3 months, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your test result is positive, you should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. Counselors providing the test should be able to answer questions and provide referrals for follow-up testing as well. You can use the HIV.gov locator to find a provider near you.
What Is The Cost Of The Rapid Hiv Test
The cost for the rapid HIV test, whether it uses oral fluid or a finger-stick blood sample is about $8 per test for public health officials and $8-$60 for other organizations. Most insurance plans now cover HIV testing.
There are several rapid tests available which can be done on either whole blood from a vein or finger stick, or oral fluids collected on a special swab. Many of these tests also can detect HIV-2, which is a different virus than HIV-1.
HIV-1 is the retrovirus that typically causes AIDS and is the HIV type most prevalent in most of the world, including the United States. If a person has antibodies to HIV-1, it means that he or she is infected with the HIV-1 virus that causes AIDS.
HIV-2 is a virus found primarily in western, sub-Saharan Africa. HIV-2 is rare in other parts of the world, but it has been reported sporadically in many locations. It is believed to be spread by the same methods of transmission as HIV-1. If a person has antibodies to HIV-2, it means that he or she is infected with the HIV-2 virus.
Testing for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 is important, particularly in people who may have acquired their infection in West Africa or from someone who may have links to that area. Much of the HIV testing currently done in the United States, including the rapid oral test, detects both HIV-1 and HIV-2 .
Available rapid tests include the following:
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can An Hiv Test Detect If You Are Infected
No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis , right away.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.
Get Tested Regularly If You Are At Greater Risk Of Hiv
If you are at greater risk of HIV get tested regularly.
Gay, bisexual, trans and other men who have sex with men should get tested every 3 months . This may vary depending on how many sexual partners you have during the year.
Talk with your doctor or sexual health specialist for advice. They can also provide information about how to reduce your risk for HIV and other STIs.
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Benefits Of Knowing Youre Hiv Positive
Whatever your result might be, there are now many good reasons to test and few reasons to avoid testing. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful. This means you are more likely to have a healthy life and have fewer problems with symptoms of the infection.
It will also help to protect your sexual partners.
For pregnant women, the chances of passing on HIV infection to your baby either during pregnancy, at delivery or afterwards by breastfeeding, can be greatly reduced through:
- careful management
What Is Rapid Hiv Testing
There are now many tests available which can detect HIV antibodies within a few minutes. Examples of rapid tests include OraQuick, which can detect antibodies in 20 minutes and is the only rapid test that can use oral fluid, and INSTI, which can detect antibodies in under a minute. Other rapid tests are available as well. The technology involved in rapid testing is quite advanced and for any of the various tests, the results are over 99% accurate.
Most community-based organizations who conduct HIV testing in Louisiana follow a rapid-rapid testing model. This means that you will have a rapid test done during your visit and then, if that test is positive, you will have a second test done to verify your result. If both results are positive, you will be offered a referral to medical care. In the very rare event that the second test is negative, your counselor will advise you about next steps.
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Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
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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Sexually Transmitted Disease Tests
Many sexually transmitted diseases can be diagnosed using a blood sample. These tests are often combined with urine samples or swabs of infected tissue for more accurate diagnoses.
The following STDs can be diagnosed with blood tests:
Blood tests arent always accurate right after contracting an infection. For an HIV infection, for example, you may need to wait at least a month before a blood test can detect the virus.
What Does A Positive Hiv Test Result Mean
If you have a positive HIV test result, a follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are HIV-positive.
If you had a rapid screening test, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure the screening test result was correct. If you used a self-testing kit at home, a positive HIV test result must always be confirmed by additional HIV testing performed in a health care setting. If your blood was tested in a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same sample.
If your follow-up test result confirms you are infected with HIV, the next thing is to take steps to protect your health and prevent transmission to others. Begin by talking to your health care provider about antiretroviral therapy . ART is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines every day. ART can keep you healthy for many years and greatly reduces your chance of transmitting HIV to your sex partner if taken the right way, every day. Your health care provider will help you decide what HIV medicines to take.
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 Federal resources that may help you.
To lower your risk of transmitting HIV,
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How Do The Tests Work
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others use saliva , but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.
How Is It Used
HIV antibody and HIV antigen testing is used to screen for and diagnose HIV infections. Early detection and treatment of HIV infection and immune system monitoring can greatly improve long-term health and survival. Also, if a person knows his or her HIV status, it may help change behaviors that can put him or her and others at risk.
Different types of tests may be used for HIV screening:
There are a few different ways a person can get access to HIV screening:
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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: