It is always better to get tested early and as soon as possible if you think you suffer from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), this virus also seems to cause AIDS. Being diagnosed with this disease is usually scary as today one can live a full life with HIV, only if the treatment starts in time. The other important fact of this is that it helps you take precaution from the same and the individual can also avoid passing this to the other person.
Today there are various test that are used to diagnose the cause of HIV infection. Some other tests are often used to monitor the treatments in people who suffer from this disease. Some types of HIV tests are mentioned below.
HIV Tests: Getting a Diagnosis:
One should be tested for HIV infection if:
• One has had several sexual partners
• Had unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who could be HIV positive.
• If you have shared syringes or have been injected with steroids or drugs or any other equipment during drug use.
• If ever suffered from a sexually transmitted disease like hepatitis or TB.
• If in case you have had sex with someone whose medical history is not known.
There are loads of tests that are used to diagnose HIV:
1. Antibody Tests: If in case you have been infected with HIV virus the body starts to produce the infection fighting proteins against the virus known as antibodies. This test actually looks for these antibodies in your blood and other fluids.
2. Elisa: This is the most common test which is used to detect HIV antibodies in the sample of your blood and some other test also take the sample of saliva and urine.
These antibodies do not show up immediately but they need an open window period of about 6 to 12 weeks and in some cases even several months before actually the body starts to produce the antibodies to fight the virus. If tested negative in a few weeks after being exposed to the virus one should get tested again in three months to six months time period. Even if the test turns out to be negative one should remember that the disease is still transmissible even during the window period.
Some rapid tests are actually based on the similar principles but they can detect the antibodies much faster as compared to other tests by using saliva and the result can be produced within 20 minutes. Even after the rapid tests the results must always be confirmed with the doctor after getting a follow up test done.
Some of the online pharmacies also sell HIV kits and the FDA has approved only one of them and they are the Home Access HIV 1 test system. Learn how to use this system, the guidelines are also mentioned on the pack as well:
• Prick your finger with a special needle from the pack and collect the blood on the collection card available, this card can then be mailed to the local laboratory and in a few weeks you call this laboratory on a toll free number to get the results. The best part about this kit is that the whole system is anonymous and one gets to know their results by just giving the PIN (personal Identification Number) to the laboratory.
The PCR test: Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) actually detects the genetics of the HIV, this test is much better than the antibody test and it can tell if the patient is suffering from HIV much sooner as compared to the antibody test and this can be confirmed within 2 weeks of the infection. It is commonly known as the viral load test.
Screening Tests: These test are performed after the diagnosis which include CD4 Count and Viral Load Test. The CD4 count test helps to detect the immune cells which are found under the surface of the white blood cells also known as the T- helper cells. The Viral Load test actually measures how many viruses are present in your blood, and of course the viral count needs to be low as this helps in treating the virus.