While much has been done to reduce the instance of HIV, it is still an issue that affects millions of people around the world. If left untreated, HIV can turn into full-blown AIDS, and cause a host of other health issues ranging from mild to even life-threatening. In addition to the risks that someone with HIV faces with regard to their health, there is also the serious risk of spreading HIV without even knowing one has it. This is why HIV checks are so important. There are now a variety of different tests that are well-suited to catching HIV, even in its earliest stages.
HIV: The Basics
Symptoms of HIV can range from very mild to severe, depending on when it is detected. What follows are some of the most common symptoms associated with HIV. HIV means the human immunodeficiency virus. The virus acts by destroying white blood cells, which are the type of blood cells that fight various types of infection.
HIV can, but will not necessarily, develop AIDS. It is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of needles, or being exposed to the blood or bodily secretions of someone who has HIV. Since so many of the symptoms are, at first, very mild, and can be confused for other ailments, it is often difficult to catch. More severe symptoms can take months or years to present themselves. This is why an HIV check is so vitally important for those who are at a higher risk of getting the virus.
Many government-run, health-related websites in %country% provide a detailed checklist of the most common symptoms associated with HIV, as well as information about resources for HIV test kits. What follows are some of the more common early symptoms of HIV:
- muscle aches
- constant fatigue
- night sweats
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle pain
- mouth sores
Since these symptoms are quite common and can indicate a wide range of different health issues, it can be difficult to know that what you are dealing with is HIV without being tested. For those who are at a higher risk of getting HIV, getting an HIV test kit is highly recommended. The sooner the virus is caught, the easier it is to manage and keep it from progressing into something more serious.
HIV Risk Factors
There are a number of factors that can put someone at greater risk for getting HIV. The most common ways HIV is spread is through sexual intercourse. Unprotected vaginal or anal sex is one of the easiest ways that HIV can be transmitted. The sharing of needles for the use of intravenous drugs is also another common way that HIV can be transmitted from person to person. However, simply living in a community with a high incidence of people with HIV will put one at an elevated risk of contracting HIV.
Though it is far less common, HIV can be transmitted from mother to child. This can occur before the child is even born. Breast Milk is another means in which the virus can be passed from mother to child. If you had a blood infusion before 1985, you may be at risk for HIV. After 1985, all donated blood in the US and much of Europe are tested for HIV.
There is evidence that there can even be a genetic predisposition to getting HIV. Research has shown that there is a gene that works to fight HIV, and some people are born with a lower amount of copies of these genes than others, putting them at greater risk. At present, there is not a test that can determine your genetic likelihood of getting HIV, but perhaps in the future, such a test will exist.
HIV and Aids
If left untreated, HIV can cause a host of more serious health issues. This includes the progression of the disease from HIV to AIDS. Those who are not seeking treatment for their HIV are at very high risk for the virus developing into AIDS, which is considered the latest stage of the HIV infection. Not everyone who has the virus will experience the progression of HIV AIDS.
There are a number of common symptoms that can indicate that the HIV infection has progressed into AIDS, such as:
- profuse night sweats
- swelling of glands in the neck, groin, or arm
- extended diarrhoea
- unexplained weight loss
- memory loss
- sores in the mouth or genitals
- colourful blotches around the nose, mouth, or eyes
Different Types of HIV Checks and Tests
There are a wide variety of different HIV tests that can identify the problem at a number of different stages. There are many services in %country% that provide free or reduced-cost access to some of these testing mechanisms. There are HIV self-test kits in some countries that allow you to test yourself at home. This is not available in all countries. The costs of the various HIV tests will vary in %country%, but most often they can be obtained for less than $100 US Dollars.
There is an HIV test window period, which refers to how long after exposure that the infection can be detected. The 3rd generation HIV test Singapore uses can only detect the infection about 3 months after it has been acquired. These 3rd generation kits will test for HIV antibodies and it takes a few weeks to get the results back, but they are highly reliable. The newer, 4th generation HIV test Singapore also uses can detect the virus much sooner than the 3rd generation test. The test detects HIV antibodies and p24 viral proteins and can detect HIV as little as a month after exposure. Test results usually come back quickly with this test, taking as little as a few days, and it is highly reliable.
The 3rd and 4th generation tests are the most common types of test used at most doctor’s offices and even other testing facilities like certain drug stores. There are also what are called rapid tests, which test for HIV antibodies. This test is effective at detecting IV about 3 months after exposure. The rapid test, as the name implies, returns results in as little as 20 minutes. This test is fairly effective for a simple HIV infection, but for those who have a more complicated infection, it may return inaccurate results.
Some countries offer access to self-testing kits, as noted above. This test, like many of the other types of HIV tests, check for HIV antibodies and can detect the virus about 3 months after exposure. Like the rapid test, it returns the test results in as little as 20 minutes. This is a fairly decent test that provides a good indication that one has or doesn’t have the virus, but it is highly recommended that one follow up with a healthcare professional for further testing and a course of treatment.
How HIV Tests Work
These tests all work in slightly different ways, so we will touch on the ways in which each kind of test described above detects HIV. First, we will look at the 3rd generation HIV test.
The 3rd generation HIV test is also called the ELISA antibody test. When someone has HIV, there are antibodies that your body will begin to produce, which attempt to attach to the HIV virus in order to destroy it. This test detects these antibodies, which will be present in the blood, urine, or saliva of an infected person. It takes about three months for these antibodies to build up enough in your system to be detected by the 3rd generation test.
The 4th generation HIV test is called the ELISA combined antigen/antibody test. As the 3rd generation test, the 4th generation test also looks for the presence of antibodies associated with an HIV infection. Additionally, this test also looks for something called p24 antigens, which are part of the virus itself. If one has been infected with HIV, there will be a high level of p24 antigens in the blood. Unlike the 3rd generation test, this test can detect the virus one month after exposure. Test results for this type of test usually come back faster than 3rd generation test results.
Rapid HIV tests are actually a class of different types of tests, but they all work in roughly the same way. Like the other test we have described, the rapid test will detect antibodies in the blood. These tests will be accurate three months after exposure, as the 3rd generation tests. These tests use a drop of blood from a prick on your finger. It takes about 20 minutes to return the results. While these tests are fairly accurate, they are known to produce false positives, which shows that one has HIV when they, in fact, do not.
Self-testing isn’t available in a lot of places yet outside of Europe and the United States. These tests are convenient in that you can take them from the comfort of your own home and can often find them for sale online. If choosing a self-testing kit, it is important to choose one that has CE (European) or FDA (USA) approval. These tests also detect antibodies and are accurate three months after exposure. Like the rapid tests, the self-test kits can give false positives. If the test comes up positive, one needs to visit a healthcare professional for further testing and a care plan.
The prognosis for HIV detected early is quite good. The problem arises when the virus goes undetected or untreated. There are a number of different types of treatment and there are some cutting-edge treatments that can actually help those exposed to the virus to reduce their chances of actually contracting it. First, we will discuss the drugs that are used to prevent the development of the virus in those who have been exposed, and then discuss the treatment used for those who are already infected.
There are two main types of “preventative” drugs used for those who have been exposed to or may be exposed to HIV. These are called pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are drugs that are taken daily by those who do not have HIV but are regularly exposed to the virus. If, for example, one is unaffected but has an infected partner, these drugs, when taken daily, can help reduce the likelihood of actually contracting the virus. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is about 90% effective at stopping the transmission of the virus via sexual intercourse, and about 70% effective at stopping the transmission through the use of shared needles for injected drugs.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is meant to be used by someone who may have been exposed to HIV. This is an emergency solution that is effective within 72-hours of exposure to the virus. Whether exposed via the workplace, sex, or drug usage, this can be an effective way to help reduce the chance of actually contracting the infection. This is a short-term treatment and is not intended for those who may be continually exposed to the virus. PEP is taken for a prescribed course and then further tests will be done to ensure that one did not contract the virus.
For those who have already contracted HIV, treatment includes the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs. This usually contains a number of different HIV medications from multiple classes of drugs on a daily basis. It is important to note that ART does not cure HIV, but it helps people to live happier and healthier lives than one would without treatment. These drugs can help reduce the risk of transmission of the infection, but precautions are still needed for partners of those taking ART.
Today, there are a number of highly accurate HIV checks that can detect the virus from between one and three months after exposure occurs. These tests look for certain antibodies that are known to develop as a result of an HIV infection. Newer tests, like the 4th generation HIV test, also test for other compounds that are indicative of the HIV virus and can detect the presence of HIV sooner than any of the other tests on the market. There are rapid tests, and in some countries, you can even order an HIV test online and take it in the comfort of your own home. These tests are highly effective and can help those exposed to the virus to determine whether or not they have contracted it and to seek the proper course of treatment if they have.