Why Is Hiv Testing Important
Knowing your HIV status can help keep youand otherssafe.
If you are HIV negative:
A negative HIV test result shows that you do not have HIV. Continue taking steps to avoid getting HIV, such as using condoms during sex and, if you are at high risk of getting HIV, taking medicines to prevent HIV . For more information, read the HIVinfo fact sheet on The Basics of HIV Prevention.
If you are HIV positive:
A positive HIV test result shows that you have HIV, but you can still take steps to protect your health. Begin by talking to your health care provider about antiretroviral therapy . People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines every day to treat HIV infection. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV, and people with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. ART cannot cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
A main goal of ART is to reduce a persons viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.
Confidential Versus Anonymous Testing
In some states, you can get tested without giving your name, if you prefer. This is called anonymous testing. When you get an anonymous HIV test at a testing site, they record a number or code with the test result, not your name. A counselor gives you this number at the time you take the test. Then you return to the testing site or call and give them your number or code to learn the result of your test.
If you get the test from your doctor, you can ask that the information be confidential. This means the results may be shared only with people allowed to see your medical records. Ask your doctor who will have access to your test results. With confidential testing, state health departments may also have access to your test results.
Importance Of Hiv Testing
If you have the virus, finding out quickly means you can start treatment right away so you can feel better and live a long, full life. You can also take steps so you don’t pass HIV to other people.
Pregnant women should get tested because early treatment means you probably wonât pass it to your baby.
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Sexual Health Tests At Walgreens
HIV and AIDS tests you perform at home look for antibodies to the HIV virus inside your body. This is the virus that causes AIDS. The HIV virus attacks immune cells that help your body fight off infection. Over time this can weaken your immune system and make it harder to avoid illness. Home HIV and AIDS tests can tell you whether you’ve been exposed to the HIV virus so you can get medical treatment and avoid exposing others.
What To Expect With Hiv Testing
For a lab test, you might need to call your doctor to schedule it. Some public health- clinics take walk-ins.
A technician will take a small blood sample and send it to a lab. Some immunoassay tests check your urine or fluids from your mouth , but there aren’t as many antibodies in these, so you may get false negatives.
With home blood tests, you prick your finger to get a small blood sample that you send to a lab. You call to get your result, and you don’t have to give your name. If it’s positive, the lab will also do a follow-up test to double-check.
With home oral fluid tests, you swab your upper and lower gums and test the sample in a vial. About 1 in 12 people who are infected get a false negative from this test. If itâs positive, get a lab test to confirm.
How long does it take to get HIV results? This depends on what kind of test you had. Rapid tests provide answers in less than a half-hour. With a standard blood test or antibody/antigen test, you should expect results in a few days. It may take several days to get results from an NAT test. Urine test results could take up to 2 weeks.
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What Is A Window Period
Every HIV test has a different âwindow period.â Thatâs how long you need to wait after exposure until you can expect an accurate result. No HIV test can tell if you have the virus just after youâve been exposed.
If you get tested too soon, you may get faulty results. But if you wait too long to learn if youâre HIV-positive, you can miss out on early treatment and also unknowingly spread the virus to others.
When To Get Tested
If youâve had a high-risk exposure to HIV very recently, go to the emergency room or call your doctor right away. Examples include unsafe sex with someone who has HIV or if you were sexually assaulted. Emergency drugs called post-exposure prophylaxis may prevent HIV infection. You need to take them within 72 hours after exposure. The sooner you start, the better.
If you don’t get to a doctor in time to get PEP, ask your doctor about getting tested for HIV. For most types of HIV tests, youâll need to wait 2 weeks or more after exposure to get an accurate result. You can infect others soon after you’re exposed, so practice safe sex and take other precautions in the meantime.
Almost everyone who is HIV-positive has detectable levels of antibodies at 3 months. So if you test negative a month or two after your exposure, your doctor may want you to retest after 3 months to be sure.
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What Are The Early Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Not everyone who is infected with HIV will develop early symptoms, known as acute HIV infection. Two to four weeks after exposure to HIV, some people may develop flu-like symptoms that last from a few days up to several weeks. These symptom include:
These symptoms are not specific to HIV – other infections may cause the same symptoms. The presence or absence of symptoms does not predict whether you have HIV or not, and only an HIV test can detect whether a person is or is not infected with HIV. If these symptoms dont go away, or get worse, you should see a doctor.
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.
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Whats The Treatment For Hiv
Theres no cure for HIV, but there are treatments that help people with HIV live long, healthy lives. Antiretroviral therapy is a combination of medicines that slows down the effects of HIV in your body and can help you stay healthy for many years. It can also lower or even stop your chances of giving HIV to anyone else.
ART lowers the amount of HIV in your body sometimes to the point where HIV wont show up on standard blood tests. If your HIV viral load is so low that certain tests cant see it, its called undetectable. When someone has an undetectable viral load, they cant spread HIV to others during sex.
Its important to remember that even with an undetectable viral load, HIV is still present in your body. If you stop treatment your viral load can go up, making it possible to pass HIV to others you have sex with. Your doctor or nurse can help you find the treatment thats best for you to help keep your viral load low, so you can stay healthy.
Paying attention to your lifestyle can help you stay healthy too. This means eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, learning how to deal with stress, and avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs.
Where Can I Go For Hiv Testing
You can get tested for HIV and other STDs at your doctors office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center. You might want to get your HIV test at a place that also has HIV counseling .
You can either get an anonymous” or “confidential HIV test, depending on the laws in the state that you live in. Confidential” testing means your name is on the test, and the results go in your medical records. Your doctors and insurance company may also see the results. If you test positive, your results are sent to your local health department so they know the rates of HIV in your area. But your results are protected by privacy laws, so nobody else can see them without your permission.
“Anonymous” testing means your name isnt on the test. Youll get an ID number that youll use to find out your results. Your results wont go in your medical records, and they wont be sent to your insurance company or the health department youre the only one who will know them.
STD testing, including HIV testing, isnt usually automatically part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam you have to ask for it directly. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out what tests are best for you. Dont be embarrassed: your doctor is there to help, not to judge.
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Why Testing Is Important
If you’re carrying the HIV virus, early treatment can keep you healthy longer. Treating HIV infection early may slow down damage to the immune system and may help prevent or delay some of the life-threatening infections people with AIDS can develop. By knowing your HIV status, you can also take steps to avoid spreading the virus to other people.
The HIV virus is transmitted from person to person through sexual contact and contact with blood from an infected person. It can also be passed to an unborn baby through pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding. You can carry the HIV virus and not have symptoms initially. That’s why testing is so important. Some experts believe everyone should get tested for HIV at least once.
Are You At Risk For Hiv/aids
The only way to really know if you have HIV, AIDS, or another STI is to get tested. Dont let anxiety stop you! If you feel uneasy about getting tested, remember that:
- Getting tested will take away the worry of not knowing.
- HIV will cause serious health problems if it isnt managed properly.
- HIV testing doesnt take long and can be done anonymously.
- Involves a nurse or doctor discussing the testing process with you beforehand
- Will include counselling before the test
- Involves a specific type of blood test
- Isnt automatic and shouldnt take place without your consent
- Isnt a part of your routine blood test or included with any other STI testing
- Is confidential, and can be done anonymously at any Peel Healthy Sexuality Clinic
- Only you will get the results in person or over the phone
Before your HIV test you will speak with a healthcare practitioner about the test, what the results mean, and what your risks might be. This is called “pre-test counselling.
Ways to Get Tested
There are different ways to get tested for HIV. At Peel Public Health Sexuality clinics, we offer:
No health card is required for any type of HIV testing at a Peel Public Health Healthy Sexuality Clinic and the service is free.
When to Get Tested
Should Pregnant Women Get Tested For Hiv
CDC recommends that all pregnant women get tested for HIV so that they can begin taking HIV medicines if they are HIV positive. Women with HIV take HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the risk of perinatal transmission of HIV and to protect their own health. For more information, read the HIVinfo fact sheet on Preventing Perinatal Transmission of HIV.
What Kind Of Hiv Tests Are There
Rapid HIV tests give you results in about 20 minutes. Other tests take longer because they need to be sent out to a lab. HIV tests are usually painless you just gently rub the inside of your cheek with a soft swab. Sometimes youll give a blood sample for testing.
You can test yourself for HIV using an at-home HIV testing kit. With the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, you swab your gums and test the sample yourself. You get results in 20 minutes. With the Home Access HIV-1 Test, you prick your finger to get a small amount of blood. You mail your blood sample to a lab, and get your results in about a week. At-home tests are totally anonymous you’re the only person who will know the results. And both types of tests help connect you with counselors who can give you support and advice about treatment if you test positive.
If a rapid HIV test at a clinic or a home test shows that you have HIV, get a follow-up test to make sure the results are correct.
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How Much Will It Cost
As required by the Affordable Care Act, HIV screening is covered by health insurance without a co-pay. This includes most Medicaid programs. If you dont have health insurance, some testing sites may offer free tests or offer tests on a sliding fee scale based on income. Use CDCs Get Tested to search for free testing resources.
Know Your Partners Hiv Status
You may not know about your partners risk of HIV infection, such as whether he has unprotected sex with many partners, has sex with other men, or uses injection drugs.
Many women avoid getting tested for HIV or dont ask their partners to be tested. The testing process can seem scary to some and too much work to others. Some women who test negative assume their partners must be HIV-negative too. But your HIV test only reveals your status, not your partners. Many women just havent figured out how to talk about testing with their partners.
To get your partner on board:
- Tell your partner you want to talk about testing so that the two of you can be closer and worry less.
- If you have not yet had sex, say that getting tested will make you feel better prepared to start having sex with your partner.
- If you have already had sex, say that sex will be less stressful once you both know your status.
If your sexual partner has had sex with someone else, its important that you go to the doctor and get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections . Also ask your partner to get tested for HIV and other STIs. If you have changed partners, have multiple partners, or have injected drugs, then you should ask for an HIV test as well.
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What Happens During An Hiv Test
There are many places to get tested for HIV, including at your doctor’s office, health clinics, testing programs in your community, and at home. If you go somewhere for your test, a staff person or counselor will explain what type of sample will be taken and how. If you do a test at home, be sure to follow all the instructions that come with your test kit.
- For blood from a vein, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
- For blood from a finger, a health care professional will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood. If you are collecting your own blood sample to send to a lab, follow the instructions that come with your collection kit.
- For a saliva sample, a health care professional will wipe a special swab along your gums. If you are doing an at-home test, you will do this yourself according to the instructions.
Should I Get Tested For Hiv
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, get tested for HIV if you are:1
- Older than 15. All women and girls older than 15 need to be tested at least once.
- Pregnant. Every pregnant woman should have an HIV test as early as possible in the pregnancy. You need to get tested even if you have been tested before. Also, consider getting tested for HIV if you plan to get pregnant.
Some women with HIV don’t know they have it, because HIV may not cause symptoms for several years. Even if HIV causes no symptoms, it is still causing problems with your body’s immune system that need to be treated as soon as possible.
Some women who test negative assume their partners must be HIV-negative too. But your HIV test reveals only your status, not your partner’s.
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