Does Hiv Go Away
HIV doesnt go away on its own. It inserts itself into your DNA so your cells think that its a part of you. There can be many years without symptoms after initial infection, but HIV can still be damaging your immune system even if you dont feel sick.
There may be periods while on medication where the virus is not detectable by an HIV test. In these cases, HIV can be hiding in your body, undetected. It can wake up and start destroying your cells again in the future.
This is why continuing to take HIV medication, even if you dont feel sick or the virus is undetectable, is extremely important. Without treatment, HIV will weaken your immune system until you cant fight off other serious illnesses.
What Kinds Of Hiv Tests Are Available In Canada
The two main kinds of HIV tests available in Canada are the standard HIV test and the rapid HIV test.
Most people get what is known as a standard HIV test. Blood is taken from a vein in your arm and sent to a laboratory for analysis. It can take up to two weeks to get your result. Talk to the person who does your test about how you will get your test result. There are many places to get a standard HIV test, including family doctors offices, walk-in clinics and sexual health clinics.
Rapid testing is another option. With a rapid test, you get an initial result within a few minutes of doing the test. Rapid tests are screening tests. This means that if the test shows a positive result, you will need to get a standard test to confirm the result. You might be able to get a rapid test from a healthcare provider or community worker, but this option isnt available in every part of Canada. In regions where rapid tests are available, they are often provided at certain specialty clinics, such as sexual health clinics, or through HIV organizations. However, anyone in Canada can get a rapid self-test, which you perform on yourself at home. Self-tests can be ordered online and may be available for free from community organizations or for purchase in some stores.
How is your privacy protected when you get an HIV test?
As with all medical procedures, your discussions with the person giving you an HIV test are confidential.
Who Else Should Get Hiv Tests
The CDC recommends that everyone between ages 13 and 64 get tested at least once even if you have no risk factors for HIV. Other people who should get tested at certain times or regularly include:
Pregnant women. HIV can be passed from mother to child in the womb. HIV testing is part of pregnancy care, but you have to agree to do it. If you test positive, antiretroviral therapy can protect your unborn baby from getting HIV. This works extremely well if you start treatment early.
People in a high-risk group. Get tested at least every 12 months if you inject drugs, work in the sex trade, have multiple sex partners, or do anything else that puts you at a higher risk.
If you are a sexually active gay or bisexual man, consider testing every 3 months. This is especially important if you donât know whether or not your partner or partners have HIV. Most infections happen in men who have sex with other men, and many donât know if they have HIV or not.
CDC: âTesting,â âHIV Risk Reduction Tool: The Window Period,â âHIV Risk Reduction Tool: Post-exposure Prophylaxis for Preventing HIV after Exposure,â âAn Opt-Out Approach to HIV Screening,â âHIV and Gay and Bisexual Men.â
NAM AIDSMap : âFalse negative results on HIV tests.â
HIV.gov: âHIV Testing Overview,â âHow Can You Tell If You Have HIV?â
San Francisco AIDS Foundation: âThe Questions about PrEP.â
GMHC: âHIV/AIDS Basics,â âThe GMHC Testing Center.â
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After Testing Positive For Hiv How Soon Do People Start Taking Hiv Medicines
People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after their HIV is diagnosed. However, before starting treatment, people with HIV must be prepared to take HIV medicines every day for the rest of their lives.
Issues, such as lack of health insurance or an inability to pay for HIV medicines, can make it hard to take HIV medicines consistently. Health care providers can recommend resources to help people deal with any issues before they start taking HIV medicines.
Lifestyle Changes And Complementary Treatments
A healthy lifestyle can ease some of the effects of HIV or its treatment:
- Stick to a balanced diet. Energy and nutrients help your body fight HIV. A healthy diet may also let your medications work better and could ease side effects. But be careful to prevent foodborne illness by avoiding raw meat and eggs.
- Get regular exercise. It boosts strength and endurance, lowers your risk of depression, and helps your immune system work better.
- Donât smoke. Smoking can make you more likely to get a serious condition like cancer, pneumonia, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease . People with HIV who smoke tend to have shorter lifespans than those who donât.
- Get your vaccinations. Ask your doctor about whether they recommend that you get vaccines against pneumonia, flu, hepatitis A or B, or HPV.
Some people say that complementary therapies — those done in addition to standard medical treatment — help them feel better and live fuller lives with HIV. These may include:
Always talk with your doctor before adding a traditional practice or nutritional supplement to your HIV treatment plan.
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What Happens If You Test Negative
If you test HIV negative, it means that the test did not detect HIV in your body. If you have had a potential exposure to HIV in the past three months, you may have to repeat the test at a later date to be sure that you dont have HIV. Ask a healthcare provider or community worker about how often you should test in the future.
After a test, you can think about how you will prevent getting HIV. You can consider taking PrEP, using condoms for sex, or using new equipment each time you inject drugs.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv
It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.
If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.
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How Antiretroviral Drugs Affect The Body
While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to very low levels. By doing this, it keeps the person healthy and prevents the transmission of the virus to other people.
A very low, or undetectable, viral load means that the risk of transmission to others is virtually zero, which has led to the phrase: undetectable = untransmittable .
Experts encourage all people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count, to start taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Early treatment is key to a good outcome.
As with other medications, antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects in some people. However, modern drugs tend to produce fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs.
Possible side effects of antiretroviral drugs include:
Some side effects may last for a few days or weeks after the person starts treatment. Others may start later or last longer.
If a person experiences severe side effects that make them consider stopping treatment, they can talk to their healthcare provider. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to drug resistance and limit a persons treatment options.
Some people can reduce some side effects by taking the medication 2 hours before going to bed. Other people may prefer to take it in the morning to prevent sleep disturbances.
Certain HIV drugs may also lead to less obvious changes, such as:
What Else Should I Know
Treatment has improved greatly for people with HIV. By taking medicines and getting regular medical care, HIV-positive people can live long and healthy lives.
People with HIV need a medical care team for the best treatment and support.
If you or someone you know has HIV or AIDS it is important to:
- goes to all doctor visits
- takes all medicines exactly as directed
- goes for all follow-up blood tests
- understands what HIV/AIDS is and how it spreads
- is physically active, gets enough sleep, and eats well
Find more information at:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv/aids
The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks. This stage is called acute HIV infection.
If the infection is not treated, it becomes chronic HIV infection. Often, there are no symptoms during this stage. If it is not treated, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system. Then the infection will progress to AIDS. This is the late stage of HIV infection. With AIDS, your immune system is badly damaged. You can get more and more severe infections. These are known as opportunistic infections .
Some people may not feel sick during the earlier stages of HIV infection. So the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested.
Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a latex 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 getting infected with HIV. To find a testing site, visit the CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources.
- 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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When To Seek Medical Care
Early diagnosis is key. If you think youve been exposed to HIV or have an encounter that put you at risk for HIV, you should seek medical care right away with a primary care doctor, urgent or walk-in clinic, or, if those are not available to you, a local emergency room.
Doctors can give you a medication called post-exposure prophylaxis after exposure to reduce your chances of developing HIV. But this medication needs to be taken within 72 hours of exposure. Ideally, youd start taking it within the first 24 hours.
If you think you were exposed to HIV in the past for example, if a former sexual partner tells you they have HIV its critical to seek medical care as soon as possible. The sooner you find out you have HIV, the sooner you can start treatment.
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:
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Which Lab Tests Are Used To Make Decisions About Hiv Treatment
A health care provider reviews a persons lab test results to:
- Determine how far the persons HIV infection has advanced
The following lab tests are used to make decisions about HIV treatment.
A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. CD4 cells are infection-fighting cells of the immune system. As HIV advances, a persons CD4 count drops, which indicates increasing damage to the immune system. Treatment with HIV medicines prevents HIV from destroying CD4 cells.
A viral load test measures how much virus is in the blood . As HIV progresses to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a persons viral load increases. HIV medicines prevent HIV from multiplying, which reduces a persons viral load. A goal of HIV treatment is to keep a persons viral load so low that the virus cannot be detected by a viral load test. This is known as having an undetectable viral load.
Once HIV treatment is started, the CD4 count and viral load are used to monitor whether the HIV medicines are controlling a persons HIV.
Health care providers consider many factors when recommending HIV medicines, including a persons drug-resistance test results. Drug-resistance testing identifies which, if any, HIV medicines will not be effective against a persons strain of HIV. The HIVinfo infographic What do my lab results mean? has more information about tests used to monitor HIV infection and treatment.
Symptoms Of The Early Stages Of Hiv
Symptoms of HIV can vary between individuals however the first signs of infection generally appear within the first 1-2 months. Many, but not all, people will experience severe flu-like symptoms which is your bodys natural response to the virus. This is called the seroconversion period.
Its during this time that its crucial to identify if HIV is the cause, as your viral load is very high which greatly increases the risk of passing it on. And the only way to know for sure is by getting tested.
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How Do People Get Hiv
HIV spreads when infected blood or body fluids enter the body. This can happen:
- during sex
- through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV is NOT spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
What Happens If You Test Positive
If you test positive on a rapid test, you will need to get a standard test with a blood draw to confirm the result. If you receive a positive result after taking a standard test, it means that you have HIV.
Its important to know that people with HIV who are diagnosed early and get the right care, treatment and support can live long, healthy and full lives. HIV treatment involves seeing a doctor regularly and taking HIV medication .
The person who gives you your result will talk to you about next steps, including linking you to HIV care and other supports. Your past sex partners and people you have shared drug use equipment with will be told that they may have been exposed to HIV. You can tell these people yourself, or if you prefer public health officials can contact them. Public health will not use your name when talking to these people. You may also be connected to public health workers in your community to help you with care, treatment and other support. If you are not referred to a healthcare provider, an HIV organization may be able to help you find one. HIV organizations can also provide information and counselling and may be able to connect you with other health and social services in your area.
After you are diagnosed with HIV, you can think about how you will prevent passing HIV to others.
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Can You Get Hiv From Kissing
Since HIV is not spread through spit, kissing is not a common way to get infected. In certain situations where other body fluids are shared, such as if both people have open sores in their mouths or bleeding gums, there is a chance you could get HIV from deep, open-mouthed kissing.
You also dont get HIV from:
- Touching or hugging someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Public bathrooms or swimming pools.
- Sharing cups, utensils or telephones with someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Bug bites.
- Donating blood.
Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV.
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases .
- Not injecting drugs.
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
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What Are Some Ways To Prevent Hiv
Knowing your HIV status is an important first step to help you decide what prevention methods to use.
Whatever your HIV status is, there are many ways to prevent passing or getting HIV.
It is also helpful to talk to your sex partners and the people you use drugs with about whether they know their HIV status. Remember that someone might have HIV and not know it. So, if a sex partner or someone you use drugs with hasnt had an HIV test recently or is unsure of their status you can encourage them to get tested.
Condoms are a great way to help prevent passing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections through sex.
If you use drugs, using new equipment each time prevents passing HIV and other infections like hepatitis C. In many communities, there are places where you can get free needles and other equipment for using drugs.
If you are HIV positive, taking HIV treatment is one of the best ways to stay healthy and can help prevent passing HIV to others. If you take your HIV treatment as prescribed, the amount of HIV in your blood can become so low that tests cant detect it. This is called having an undetectable viral load. If you are on treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load, you will not pass HIV through sex. Successful HIV treatment also lowers the chance of passing HIV from sharing equipment for using drugs, but we dont know exactly how much so its best to use new equipment every time you inject drugs.