Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) testing helps in determining whether a person is infected with HIV or not. It is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system and leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Some of the HIV screening mainly looks for any antibodies if present that is produced by your immune system to fight with the infection while other HIV check looks for the evidence for the presence of the HIV itself. Many HIV rapid checks can show results as quickly as 20 minutes. Researchers are consistently trying to enhance the test sensitivity and the duration a test takes to give the result. Test sensitivity here means how well a test can detect HIV infection.
Now the question comes why HIV screening is done?
HIV check is required for decreasing the spread of the infection. Most people remain unaware that they are infected with HIV and thus they may not take many precautions to assist in preventing the spread of the virus to others. In addition to this, when the diagnosis is done as early as possible, the treatment also starts early. This helps in delaying the progression to AIDS. This is the reason the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everybody falling in the age group of 13-64 must be tested for HIV. This can be carried out either during regular health check-ups or at any HIV check center.
HIV screening is very crucial for all pregnant women as they can easily pass on the infection to their babies at the time of pregnancy, or delivery or through breastfeeding. By taking some medications that help in combating HIV at the time of pregnancy as well as delivery helps in decreasing the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby.
The frequency at which HIV screening should be done!
As per the recommendations, sexually active gays and bisexual men should consider HIV screening every three to six months. Some of the other cases where HIV screening should be done more frequently are
- When somebody had unprotected sexual contact with more than a partner or with any anonymous partner after the last HIV check.
- Anybody who has used intravenous drugs along with steroids, silicone as well as hormones.
- Anybody who is diagnosed with some sexually transmitted infections like hepatitis or syphilis.
- Having sexual contact with any people who are in the above categories.
- Anyone who is pregnant or planning for pregnancy.
Preparation for the HIV screening:
There is no requirement of any kind of special preparations for HIV screening. There are several settings providing testing like
- Health care provider offices
- STD treatment clinics
- Community health care centers.
HIV screening is generally done by testing blood or some samples of cells that are taken with the help of a swab from the inside of the cheek for the presence of any antibodies to HIV. A different test for HIV varies based on how soon they can detect the infection. The time between a person gets the virus and when it is detected is known as the window period. It usually varied between 3-12 weeks for a body to produce antibodies for any antibody test for the detection of HIV infection. It takes some days to a few weeks to get the HIV check results. But rapid HIV tests can easily give results in 20min. Irrespective of the kind of HIV screening test, if an initial positive test comes out, the concerned person requires to follow up testing for the proper establishment of HIV diagnosis.
Let’s have a look at various kinds of HIV screening:
- Rapid HIV screening: There are different kind of rapid HIV checks that provides accurate results within as less as 20minutes.These tests usually look for the presence of antibodies. It is done by testing through a blood sample or fluid collected on a treated pad from upper or lowers gums. If a positive reaction comes in a rapid test, the person needs to do an additional blood test for getting the confirm results.
- Home HIV screening: This screening involves collecting oral fluid sample by swabbing the person’s mouth or using a kit for testing on their own. Results come out in as less as 20minutes and if by any chance positive results come up, there is a requirement of follow up test for getting confirm results.
- HIV screening in clinics or lab: Most of the clinics follow up certain guidelines for HIV screening:
In initial tests, the person is given a combination of the HIV antibody test. This test can easily imply the difference between HIV, HIV-1, and HIV-2.
If two results contradict, a third test called HIV-1 RNA test will look for HIV in the blood.
No HIV check can give results immediately after you are exposed to the virus.HIV tests that give the rapid results are the ones that look for antigens and the other that make blood evaluation for the presence of the genetic material from HIV. Those HIV tests that detect the antibodies usually take a long time.
It is indeed crucial to go for doctor care as early a possible but never rush to make a choice.
If you are looking for a good HIV doctor, then have a look at some of the important tips to follow.
- Look at the approach to health care: Always look for a doctor who efficiently shares your ideas about health care.
- Qualifications: The doctor you select must be board certified along with Internal Medicine and specializes in infectious disease. If they have a specialization in HIV, that is even better.
- Good communication: HIV testing and HIV treatment is not a quick process. Therefore, you should find a doctor with whom you can build a good relationship. For making a good relationship, the doctor should make good communication.
So, these are few tips you must keep in mind while searching for a doctor for HIV screening and other requirements. The sooner you initiate the testing process and treatment if the test comes positive, more the chances of survival and recovery.