Why Is Hiv Testing Counseling So Important
Counseling is an essential part of HIV antibody testing and should always be performed before and after testing regardless of HIV status. Counseling is mandatory in most anonymous testing sites.
- Counseling prior to the test will help you understand the results of your test, learn how to protect yourself from the virus, and gain the knowledge of how to prevent the spread of HIV if you should become infected. The counselor will explain the following:
- The test and how is performed
- AIDS and the ways HIV infection is spread
- Ways to prevent the spread of HIV
- The confidentiality or anonymity of the test results
- The meaning of possible test results
- Who you might tell about your result
- The importance of telling your sexual and drug-using partner if the result indicates HIV infection
Why Should You Go For Hiv Rna Test Right Now
Approximately 37 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe and out of those approximately 1.2 million are in the U.S itself.
In 2013 alone approx. 50,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States.
Research says that 1 out of 8 people suffering from HIV/AIDS dont know theyre infected. Getting tested is the only way to know your status and HIV RNA Test is the only fastest way to be sure.
Just after 9-11 days of exposure, the virus can be detected in your blood using the HIV RNA test.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Symptoms of the initial HIV infection can mimic those of influenza and other viral infections. The only reliable way to tell if you are infected is to get tested. Many people with HIV do not experience symptoms for years after the initial infection or have symptoms that are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses. For more, see this CDC web page: About HIV.
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Screening In Clinical Settings
- CDC recommends that individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and those with risk factors get tested more frequently. A general rule for those with risk factors is to get tested at least annually.
- CDC recently released specific guidance for HIV screening for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men . CDC recommends that clinicians screen asymptomatic sexually active MSM at least annually. Furthermore, clinicians should consider the benefits of more frequent screening for individual MSM at increased risk for HIV Infection.
What Is The Treatment For Hiv
If tested positive for HIV, do not panic. Keep calm and react accordingly as per the stage of your HIV infection. You are lucky if you had detected the infection at an early stage, you can get diagnosed and treated. But, there is no cure for advanced AIDS/HIV infection. Anti-retroviral drugs are used for HIV treatment. This treatment is called antiretroviral therapy. Anti-retroviral drugs help in controlling the virus and reduce the symptoms exhibited.
This therapy plays a vital role not only for the treatment of severe HIV infection but for people being treated for Hepatitis B or C, and people having low CD4 cell count.
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Hiv Rna Test Accuracy
The HIV RNA test is the only FDA-approved test for HIV early detection tests on the market.
The HIV RNA test is around 95-99% accurate starting around 9-11 days post-exposure and will stand at about 99% accuracy around 28 days post-exposure. If taken at the recommended window period, the HIV RNA test is highly accurate, so you can have confidence in your results. Check out the standard Antibody/Antigen HIV Test Cost & Procedures here.
After a person has been infected with HIV, there is a four-week gap where the virus may not be detected by a regular blood test. After this gap period, the accuracy and reliability of the test result increase significantly. If you suspect that youve been exposed to the HIV virus, you can take the HIV RNA early detection for a precautionary measure, but should also consider a standard re-test after 6-8 weeks to be assured of your status. You should not wait for the window period to pass before seeking help and advice. A standard antibody/antigen test is highly accurate after 4 weeks and 100% error-free after 8 weeks.
Results Reporting Critical Findings
Once HIV is diagnosed, it is essential to link patients who are HIV-positive to the care they need. The CDC uses the HIV care continuum to explain that only 30% of the 1 million adults living with HIV in the United States are in treatment, adhering to medication therapy, and achieving viral control. Data from 2011 shows that only 86% of HIV-positive adults are diagnosed, 40% are linked to a provider, 37% are prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and 30% adhere to the medications to achieve viral suppression. The care continuum is a motivating tool for healthcare providers to intervene at every level of HIV care to improve outcomes. HIV can be treated in a variety of settings including primary care, infectious disease specialty offices, federally qualified health centers, and specific HIV care centers. Every practice that screens for HIV should develop a relationship with a treating office and follow up with patients concerning their linkage to care.
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What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. However, early diagnosis allows for treatment with antiretroviral therapy that can help to suppress levels of virus in your body and greatly improve your long-term health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the World Health Organization recommend that all individuals diagnosed with HIV infection receive treatment as soon as possible, including pregnant women. With advances in treatment, individuals with HIV infection are living longer, healthier lives.
People typically take at least three drugs from two different classes in order to prevent or minimize virus replication and the emergence of drug-resistant strains. Combinations of three or more antiretroviral drugs are referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART. Read the Treatment section of the article on HIV Infection and AIDS for additional details.
Importance Of Hiv Testing For Prevention Of Hiv Infection
People with HIV who are aware of their status can get HIV treatment and remain healthy for many years. Studies show that the sooner people start treatment after diagnosis, the more they benefit from ART. Treatment with ART reduces the amount of HIV in the blood , reduces HIV-related illness, and helps prevent transmission to others. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to HIV-negative sex partners.
People who get tested and learn they dont have HIV can also make decisions about sex, drug use, and health care that can protect them from HIV. For people at risk for HIV, taking HIV medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis is highly effective for preventing HIV.
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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.
Newer Improved Hiv Tests Allow For Earlier Hiv Detection
HIV tests have improved substantially over the years, and are now easier and less expensive, with a more rapid turnaround time for results.1
Three types of HIV tests are available:
- Nucleic acid tests detects HIV ribonucleic acid
- Antigen/antibody combination tests detects HIV p24 antigen as well as HIV immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G antibodies
- Antibody tests detects HIV IgM and/or IgG antibodies
Following an exposure that leads to HIV infection, the amount of time during which no existing diagnostic test is capable of detecting HIV is called the eclipse period.2
The time between potential HIV exposure and an accurate test result is referred to as the window period. Improvements in testing technology continue to reduce the detection window period, and, therefore, the time to diagnosis and treatment of early HIV infection. As seen in the figure, each type of HIV test has its own testing window, with the NAT capable of detecting HIV the earliest, followed by the antigen/antibody combination test, and lastly, the antibody test.
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Mycoplasma And Ureaplasma Testing
The incubation period for Mycoplasma Genitalium varies from 2 to 35 days.12 Incubation period for Ureaplasma constitutes 10-20 days.13 Common practice suggests testing for Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma only when the other pathogens causing the urethral infection are excluded. 14 Collection of swabs or urine is the best option if you want to get tested.15
What Is An Hiv Rna Test
RNA refers to Ribonucleic Acid. RNA is a genetic material present in each and every cell in the bloodstream. The primary function of RNA, Ribonucleic Acid is to carry instructions. The RNA genome is essential for various biological formulations like coding, decoding, and the expression of certain genes.
There are two types of HIV infection, HIV-1 & HIV-2. HIV-2 type is not commonly seen in other countries except the African continent. HIV-1 is the most commonly reported type among the US public. The HIV RNA detects the presence of HIV-1 genetic material in the given blood specimen. HIV RNA test is also referred to as the Viral Load Test.
A standard HIV test is done to detect the antibodies your body produces to fight against the invader HIV virus. On the other hand, the HIV RNA test detects whether the virus is present by looking for the genetic material of the virus itself.
Usually, for the HIV infection, it takes quite a long time for the antibodies to develop at a detectable amount. The HIV RNA test helps in detecting and diagnosing by reducing the time between infection and detection than a regular HIV test. Regular Antigen/Antibody Tests can take anywhere from 18 90 days to turn positive. Whereas, HIV RNA produces accurate results in just 9 11 days since the exposure.
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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.
Combined Antibody/antigen Tests Or 4th Generation Test
Combined Antibody/Antigen tests are more common nowadays. These are popularly known as 4th generation tests. In these test a major HIV protein is being tested i.e p24. The protein is usually produced by the body after 2-3 weeks of getting infected and before antibodies are produced. p24 levels are only detectable for the next 12 months.
4th generation tests can detect 95% of infections after 4 weeks of infection. The test has a window period of 4 weeks.
Image: Types of HIV tests and time when they can detect an HIV infection.
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Hiv Rna Test Window Period
The HIV window period refers to the time taken to generate a 100% accurate result. A typical window period for an HIV test takes a lot of factors to arrive at a time period accuracy. Like, the time between viral transmission and antibody production, and the type of HIV testing performed different tests have different window periods.
For HIV Testing, the HIV RNA test is considered the fastest testing method to detect the virus. HIV RNA test can measure the genetic material of the virus in just 9 11 days since the exposure. Researchers claim that RNA tests are 99% accurate, so there is no need to worry about effectiveness or reliability. Standard HIV tests usually measure the levels of the antibodies that fight the HIV virus, compared to newer RNA-based tests, which estimate the amount of virus circulating in the bloodstream.
In this viral infection, the antibodies in reaction to the virus take nearly 3 months to manipulate at a detectable level of antibodies. This is why many standard HIV tests taken for early detection are shown as false negatives or false positives. On the other hand, the HIV RNA test detects the virus as soon as it is measurable in the bloodstream, long before antibodies begin to develop.
Interpretation Of Serological Test Results
Negative HIV serological testing in an infant, following nationally validated testing algorithms, suggests the following:
- The infant is not HIV-exposed or
- The infant is HIV-exposed but has seroreverted or
- If the infant has never been breastfed or not breastfed in the past 6 weeks, the infant is HIV uninfected.
If the infant is still breastfeeding, a negative HIV serological test result cannot exclude HIV infection.
Positive or reactive HIV serological testing in an infant suggests the following:
- The infant is HIV-exposed and /or
- The infant may be HIV-infected the older the infant, the more likely the infant is of being HIV-infected.
For the purposes of testing in children in relation to breastfeeding, the window period required before serological testing can be reliably interpreted after cessation of breastfeeding using rapid tests or EIA is recommended to be 6 weeks. Isolated case reports of false-negative rapid HIV tests in sick children who then go on to being HIV-infected need to be investigated.
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