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.
Making Hiv Testing Routine
You might want to test more regularly than this, for example, if you are having sex with a new partner or feel you are more at risk. Groups who are more at risk are recommended to test more regularly. Testing every 3-6 months is often advised for men who have sex with men.
Testing regularly helps keep your mind at rest, and if you test positive, it means you can start treatment quickly, protecting your health.
When To Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, its best to speak to a healthcare professional immediately.
Even if you dont think you have been at risk, testing regularly is good practice for people who are having sex. Its important to test for HIV during pregnancy. If you know your status, you can avoid passing the virus on to your baby. A window period is the amount of time it takes after infection for a test to give you an accurate result. Its good to know about window periods, but dont delay getting tested if you think you might have been exposed to HIV.
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Why Its Important To Test
If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Once youre on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable then you can’t pass the virus on to anyone else.
If you wait to test, the virus could do a lot of damage. There is a lot of support available for people who test positive.
What About False Results
Some HIV tests have a very slight chance of giving you false results. A âfalse-positiveâ result means your test shows you have HIV when you donât. Tests may also give you a âfalse-negativeâ result. That means the test says you donât have HIV, but you do.
The rapid oral fluid test is more likely to give you a false-positive result than other tests. If you take a rapid oral test and get a positive result, the doctor will give you a blood test to confirm your diagnosis.
The HIV RNA or viral load test is not generally used to diagnose HIV. If you have this test done and get a positive result, the doctor may start you on HIV treatment, but you should always take an antibody test a few months later to confirm your diagnosis.
If you test positive: These tests are all screening tests for HIV. That means that if you take an HIV test and get a positive or even an unclear result, youâll need another blood test to confirm that you do or donât have the virus. The results of both tests together are more than 99% accurate. The tests used to confirm HIV infection are either the Western blot or indirect fluorescent antibody test. If your screening test went to a laboratory, they can do this additional testing on the same blood sample. But if you were tested in a community clinic or at home, youâll need to give an additional blood sample for follow-up.
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Appendix D: Natural History Of Hiv Infection
Human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that infects the cells of the immune system. It is transmitted via exposure to body fluids that contain lymphocytes or free infectious viral particles . The routes of infection are: unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of injection-drug use equipment and from an HIV-infected mother to her unborn child. Although rare, HIV can also be transmitted through an occupational exposure such as a needlestick injury or other event where blood to blood exposure could occur. All blood and blood products used in Canadian healthcare settings now undergo extensive screening for HIV prior to use, so new infections related to their use have been virtually eliminated .
The virus can enter the body through unprotected mucous membranes where cells may become infected with HIV . The presence of a sexually transmitted infection can enhance HIV transmission because of lesions and/or an increased number of lymphocytes. Using a needle contaminated with HIV-infected blood deposits the virus directly into the blood system, where infection of lymphocytes will occur. Transmission from mother to child can take place in utero, during delivery through exposure to the mother’s blood or vaginal secretions, and through breast milk . Seroconversion occurs when an individual changes from being HIV antibody negative to HIV antibody positive.
How Accurate Are Hiv Tests
HIV tests are very accurate. Once confirmatory testing has been performed, the chance of a positive result being false is essentially zero.
Sensitivity and specificity
Sensitivity and specificity are measures of the accuracy of an HIV test.
Sensitivity is the chance that a positive test result will correctly indicate that a person has HIV. This means that if the person has HIV, the test will detect it. Higher sensitivity means there is a lower chance of a false-negative result .
Specificity is the chance that a negative test result will correctly indicate that a person does not have HIV. This means that if the person does not have HIV, the test result will be negative. Higher specificity means there is a lower chance of a false-positive result .
HIV screening tests used in Canada all have a sensitivity of up to 99.9%. In other words, if 1,000 HIV-positive people were tested for HIV, 999 would correctly test positive and one would incorrectly test negative. High sensitivity is ideal for a screening test because it effectively rules out people who dont have HIV . Since the vast majority of people who get tested for HIV are actually HIV negative, the chance of a negative result being false is extremely low.
The Geenius assay has a specificity of 100%. This means that the chance of a false-positive result after confirmatory testing is essentially zero.
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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
Results from the following three lab tests help answer these questions.
CD4 countA 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.
Viral loadA viral load test measures how much virus is in the blood . As HIV progresses to AIDS, 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 cant 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.
Drug-resistance testingHealth 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 ClinicalInfo infographic What do my lab results mean? has more information about tests used to monitor HIV infection and treatment.
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.
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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.
Hiv Tests Used In British Columbia
These tests measure antibodies to HIV. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system when the body is exposed to an infection. It takes time for the body to make antibodies after it is exposed to HIV, and different people make antibodies at different rates.
The window period for antibody tests is between 3 weeks and 3 months. Up to 95% of people will have antibodies after 6 weeks, and 99% of people will have antibodies after 3 months.
The point-of-care HIV test is an antibody tests offered in some locations in BC. The HIV Confirmatory Assay is an antibody test used to confirm a preliminary positive HIV result.
The 4th generation Enzyme Immunoassay Test test is a combined antigen / antibody test. The antigen, or viral protein, used to detect HIV is called p24 antigen. This p24 antigen shows up in the blood soon after a person gets HIV.
The 4th generation EIA test is the standard HIV laboratory screening test used in BC. Ninety-nine percent of these tests will be positive 6 weeks after a person gets HIV.
This test looks for the genetic material of HIV in the blood. It is also known as the “early HIV test” or “RNA test”. Ninety percent of NAATs are positive 10 to 12 days after a person gets HIV, and over 99% are positive after 6 weeks.
The RNA NAAT can be specially ordered by doctors or nurses if someone has had a recent high-risk exposure to HIV and/or they are having symptoms that are highly indicative of HIV.
What Is The 4th Generation Hiv Test
The fourth generation HIV test, also called an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, is a more complete screening that can identify acute HIV. This is the time when the virus is multiplying rapidly and youre more likely to pass the infection.
In the first few weeks after exposure to HIV, your body produces an antigen known as p24. This protein is only present in people who have acute HIV infection. It triggers your immune system to respond.
The fourth generation tests can identify both HIV-specific antigen p24 and HIV antibodies with a blood sample.
The fourth generation tests require a blood sample thats sent to a lab for testing. Blood testing done by a lab is the most accurate type of test.
There are many products approved for fourth generation testing, including:
- ADVIA Centaur HIV Ag/Ab Combo Assay
- Elecsys HIV Combi PT
- Genscreen ULTRA HIV Ag-Ab
- VITROS HIV Combo Test
The healthcare clinic or doctors office you visit for an HIV test can tell you more about the exact test they use.
tests that can test for the presence of HIV. HIV testing can be done by drawing blood from a vein, a finger stick, or taking an oral swab of fluid.
Tests can measure antibodies, antigen/antibody , and theres also a nucleic acid test . The NAT test can identify HIV and viral load . It can tell if you have HIV within around 10 to 33 days of exposure.
Older tests like the third generation tests arent reliable until about 3 months after exposure to the virus.
Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
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Hiv Testing Types And Lab Technologies
This chapter provides information regarding available testing technologies, approaches to testing and interpretation of results. There are many different types of HIV screening tests that are licensed for use in Canada and can vary by jurisdiction. For questions or information specific to your province or territory please contact your local Public Health laboratory.
Hiv Transmission In Drug Users
For people who inject drugs, estimates of the risk of transmission from a contaminated needle range from 0.3% to 4.0%, with several of these estimates falling in the range of 0.7% to 0.8%. Sharing ancillary injecting equipment, such as filters or cookers, has been shown to increase the risk of transmission, even in the absence of sharing needles and syringes. Other factors that have been shown to increase the risk of HIV transmission for injection drug users include: unsafe locations, type of drug and frequency of drug injection. Non-injection drug users are also at risk of HIV infection. Drug use often alters sexual behaviours by increasing risk taking. As well, several drugs have been reported to be independent risk factors of HIV transmission.
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Side Effects Of Hiv Treatment
People on current HIV treatments may experience mild side effects including:
- tiredness and fatigue
- skin rashes.
If you are on treatment, see your doctor every 3 to 6 months.
Regular blood tests are necessary to make sure your treatment is working and not causing serious side effects. It is recommended that you also get tested for STIs and talk to your doctor about your sexual health and overall wellbeing. Ensure you are having routine screening for cancers and keeping your vaccinations up to date.
How Often Do You Need To Get Tested For Hiv
How often you should get tested depends on your personal practices, risk behaviours, and how often you engage in them.
For most people, it is important to have a full sexual health test at least once each year. This testing includes:
Even if you always use condoms, it is recommended you get tested annually as condoms dont provide 100% protection against HIV and STIs.
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What Happens If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your initial test is positive for HIV antibodies, then additional testing is required to confirm that the first one was accurate. Sometimes this involves a second blood test.
When you are first diagnosed you will probably experience strong emotions. During this time, do not try to cope on your own. Seek support by speaking with your doctor, or contact your local community organisation. They have trained peer workers available to help you through the initial stages of a positive diagnosis, but also through your journey of living well with HIV.
Part of testing best practice includes pre- and post-test counselling. Post-test counselling is important, regardless of the outcome. If you test positive, counselling can provide emotional support, further information about living with HIV, and referrals to support services.
If the test is negative, counselling can provide education about HIV and how to reduce your HIV risk in the future. are community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with HIV. Peer workers are also available to help you navigate living with HIV.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, visit Next Steps for more information.
How Often Should You Test For Hiv
Testing at least once a year for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is good sexual health practice for everyone who is sexually active, even if you know you havent put yourself at risk of infection. Depending on how many different sexual partners you have in any one year, you might want to consider testing more regularly.
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men should get tested routinely for HIV and other STIs – at least annually or every three months if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.
Black African men and women should have a regular HIV and STI screen if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.
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What Will Happen If I Skip My Arv For 2 Days
Missing doses of HIV medicines can reduce their usefulness and increase the possibility of developing drug resistance, which makes certain HIV drugs lose their effectiveness. If you realize you have missed a dose, go ahead and take the medication as soon as you can, then take the next dose at your usual scheduled time.