What Do The Results Mean
If your result is negative, it can mean you don’t have HIV. A negative result may also mean you have HIV but it’s too soon to tell. It can take a few weeks for HIV antibodies and antigens to show up in your body. If your result is negative, your health care provider may order additional HIV tests at a later date.
If your result is positive, you will get a follow-up test to confirm the diagnosis. If both tests are positive, it means you have HIV. It does not mean you have AIDS. While there is no cure for HIV, the disease can be effectively controlled with medicine. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can significantly reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. People with HIV who take ART before the disease gets too advanced can live long, healthy lives. If you are living with HIV, it’s important to see your health care provider regularly.
Talking To Your Doctor About Sex Can Be Awkward But Its Important
Do you have questions about human immunodeficiency virus for your doctor? Talking with a doctor about HIV or sexual health can feel uncomfortable for many people. It is crucial, however, that anyone who is sexually active have honest conversations with their health care providers. Here are some tips and ways to get the conversation started.
Protect Yourself From Hiv
The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex unless you’re in a relationship with only one person and you have both tested negative.
Here are other steps you can take to help prevent HIV:
- Use a latex condom with water-based lubricant every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
- If you share sex toys with your partner, use a condom and clean them between each use.
- Dont inject drugs or share needles.
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Reducing The Risk Of Hiv Transmission
The most effective way to prevent HIV transmission during sex is to use a condom. Get a condom ready before any sexual contact occurs, since HIV can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and from the anus.
Lubricants can also help reduce the risk of HIV transmission by helping to prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking. Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms, because oil-based lube can weaken latex and sometimes cause condoms to break.
The use of a dental dam, a small plastic or latex sheet that prevents direct contact between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex, is also effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
For people who may have a higher risk for contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at increased risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recent recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force. This includes anyone who is sexually active with more than one partner, or is in an ongoing relationship with someone whose HIV status is either positive or unknown.
Although PrEP does provide a high level of protection against HIV, its still best to use condoms as well. PrEP provides no protection against STIs other than HIV.
How Soon Can I Take An Hiv Test
This question usually refers to how soon after exposure can someone test for HIV.
This used to involve waiting 3 to 4 weeks before taking an HIV test .
However, 2020 UK guidelines now recommend waiting 6 weeks.
This is because 4th generation HIV tests will detect 99% of infections at 6 weeks compared to 95% of infections 4 weeks after exposure.
A negative test after four weeks needs to be confirmed with a second test three months after the risk. This is to cover the small chance that you take longer than four weeks to generate an antibody response.
Extending this to 6 weeks means the confirmatory test is no longer needed.
In high risk exposures, especially if symptoms occur, viral load testing is sometimes used after one week. This includes after a sexual assault or after a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker.
In these cases a viral load test can exclude an infection when there are symptoms.
Viral load tests are not approved to diagnose HIV. A negative result still needs to be confirmed by an antibody test three months after the risk.
Figure 6: Recommended time from exposure to HIV test *
* This diagram needs to be updated to show the six-week window.
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Why Should I Get Tested For Hiv And Syphilis
You should be tested for HIV when your behaviors put you at risk for infection. The following behaviors put a person at high risk for HIV infection:
Having unprotected sex which involves contact with blood, semen or vaginal fluids.
Sharing needles and equipment to inject drugs, vitamins or steroids in which blood may be left in the needle or syringe.
Coming in contact with another persons blood who is HIV positive. Although rare, this could happen from a blood transfusion or organ transplant. All blood products are currently screened for HIV.
Passing from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
Syphilis testing is available for clients who take a confidential HIV test. Syphilis testing requires a simple blood draw and results will be available two weeks after your visit. During your visit, you will be instructed on how to get your syphilis test results.
Refer to the testing schedule and locations below for the dates and times in which the syphilis testing is offered.
For The Hiv/sti Testing You Need Now
Locate a Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens location, Norton Immediate Care Center or Norton Healthcare primary care provider or emergency department.
Your doctor should be asking about your sexual health, in order to get a full picture of your overall health, said Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates Barret. You also should be proactive on your own behalf, because its also important for you to know your risks of HIV and understand how to protect yourself.
Here are some ways to start the conversation with your doctor:
- Im sexually active and I would like to talk about my risks for STIs and HIV.
- What can I do to prevent STIs and HIV?
- How often should I get tested for HIV?
- Is an HIV-preventive medication right for me?
There is much stigma around HIV, including that it only affects certain kinds of people or that it is confined to the LGBTQ+ community. You should be comfortable speaking with medical professionals without fear of judgment or shame.
That might mean switching doctors, which may seem like a hassle, Dr. Tailor said. In the end its your health, and thats worth a little discomfort in the long run.
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Other Factors Influencing Hiv Transmission Risk
Within each route of transmission, estimates of the risk of transmission vary widely, likely due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors. Viral load appears to be an important predictor of transmission, regardless of route of transmission. However, the evidence indicates that viral load is not the only determinant, and other co-factors, such as the presence of co-infections, play a role in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
The strongest predictor of sexual transmission of HIV is plasma viral load . A dose-response relationship has been observed, where each ten-fold increase in plasma VL resulted in an increased relative risk of transmission of 2.5 to 2.9 per sexual contact. The concentration of HIV in genital secretions also plays a major role in sexual transmission. While there is a strong correlation between HIV concentrations in plasma and in genital secretions, some studies have found genital tract HIV shedding in 20% to 30% of men and women without detectable plasma viral load. Much of what is known about the impact of viral load on the sexual transmission of HIV is derived from studies of heterosexual populations. Very little is known about the relationship between HIV viral load and rate of transmission through anal intercourse.
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.
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Testing Recommendations And Requirements
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HIV screening in health-care settings for all adults, aged 13-64, and repeat screening at least annually for those at higher risk.26,27 Per the CDC individuals who may benefit from at least annual screening include:28
- sexually active gay or bisexual men
- individuals who have had sex with an HIV-positive partner
- individuals who have had more than one partner since their last HIV test
- those who have shared needles or works to inject drugs
- people who have exchanged sex for drugs or money
- individuals who have another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis, or tuberculosis
- those who have had sex with someone who has participated in any of the above activities or with someone with an unknown sexual history
Certain factors are known to reduce the risk of HIV transmission including condom use, antiretroviral treatment leading to durable viral load suppression among those with HIV, which prevents further transmission, and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis among those at increased risk for HIV.29
Additionally, HIV testing is recommended for all pregnant women and for any newborn whose mothers HIV status is unknown.30 Treatment provided to pregnant HIV-positive women and to their infants for 4-6 weeks after delivery can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to 1% or less.31 HIV testing is also recommended for anyone who has been sexually assaulted.
Reducing The Risk Of Hiv
HIV is spread from one person to the next person by fluids . This can occur as a result of drug users sharing needles or during sexual activity.
Not sharing needles when using injected drugs taking recommends this preventive medication for people with known risk factors for HIV not douching after sex If youre not in a monogamous relationship, normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the vaginal canal may be disrupted, worsening an infection or increasing your risk of contracting HIV and STDs.
Women who do not have HIV but have HIV-positive partners are not at danger of contracting the virus if their partners take their HIV medicine on a regular basis and achieve viral suppression, as long as they continue to wear a condom.
HIV-positive persons with a viral load of less than 200 copies per millilitre of blood have virtually no danger of spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source.
Understanding the risk factors is crucial to HIV prevention. You may learn more about preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by visiting this page.
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When Is It Ordered
Several organizations recommend routine screening for HIV:
- The Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Physicians recommend that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be screened for HIV at least once.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends anyone age 15 to 65 get at least a one-time test.
- The CDC, USPSTF and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that all pregnant women be screened. Repeat testing in the third trimester may be done for women at high risk. Some women may opt to get tested when planning a pregnancy .
- The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that all sexually active youth be screened, and that youths between 15 and 18 years old be offered HIV testing at least once, regardless of sexual history.
For additional details on screening recommendations, see the articles for Teens, Young Adults, Adults, and Adults 50 and Up.
Annual screening is advised for those who are at high risk for HIV and is recommended when you:
- Have unprotected sex with more than one partner since your last HIV test
- Are a man who has sex with another man
- The CDC says that your healthcare practitioners may consider more frequent screening for you, such as every 3 to 6 months.
You should get at least a one-time test, regardless of age, if you:
Appendix C: Hiv Transmission Risk
This appendix is condensed from a more detailed technical report, HIV Transmission Risk: A Summary of the EvidenceFootnote 3 which synthesises the scientific evidence on the risk of HIV transmission through sexual activities, injection and other drug use, and mother-to-child transmission. Over 200 references formed the basis of the review, based on a search of the literature for the period between 2001 and March 2012 Footnote 4. The findings from this large body of evidence demonstrated the difficulties inherent in quantifying the risk of HIV transmission, in part due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors, including viral load and the presence of co-infections, in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
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If I Test Positive For Hiv What Follow
If you are HIV-positive, follow-up tests may include the following:
- HIV viral load testingmeasures the amount of HIV in the blood. It is performed when you are first diagnosed to help determine the status of the disease and is ordered at intervals to monitor the effectiveness of therapy.
- CD4 countmeasures the number of CD4 T-cells in the blood. It is ordered when you are first diagnosed to get a baseline assessment of your immune system and it is done at intervals to monitor therapy and the status of the immune system.
- HIV antiretroviral drug resistance testing, genotypicordered when you are initially diagnosed to determine whether the particular strain of HIV that you have is resistant to certain antiretroviral drug therapies. This testing is also ordered when treatment is changed or when there is evidence of treatment failure.
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.
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What If Your Test Is Positive
If your HIV test is positive when you test at home, see your doctor or health care provider as soon as possible. Your doctor will perform further testing and make treatment recommendations as necessary. Although there’s no cure for HIV and AIDS, a number of drugs are available to help keep the virus in check and help you stay healthy.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medication as they may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking these products. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
The Importance Of Getting Tested
The possibility of HIV and have any of the symptoms listed above, getting tested is a great first step. Its the only way to determine whether or not someone has HIV for sure.
The CDC is a trustworthy source of information.
That everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once, reduce risk. If someone has known risk factors, its a better idea to have them examined every year.
Testing is simple and can be done in the privacy of a medical providers office, at home, or at a testing facility. Local public health departments, as well as websites like HIV.gov, provide information on where to get tested.
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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 . 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 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.