When was the last time you were tested for HIV? Why is it important to test yourself? Did you know more than 15% of the patients in the US do not even know that they are HIV positive. Why is that?
To get started, let’s talk about HIV? What is it? HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is reverse transcriptase virus that can cause AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). It can be spread through bodily fluids, sexual intercourse, during childbirth, and through IV use (USDHHS). During the progression of disease, CD4+ T cells in the immune system are killed and levels of CD4+ T cells will continue to decline as the virus progresses leading to AIDS (CD4+ T levels <200). The low levels of CD4+ T cells will lead to more opportunistic infections to occur and you become more vulnerable leading to fatal outcomes. Although a deadly disease, modern medicine has many anti-HIV medications that make it easy for someone to have a healthy lifestyle while managing the disease. However, the progression of the disease can be limited through testing.
What is HIV testing:
As of now, 3 different types of tests exisit in diagnosing HIV infection
- Antibody Test (HIVAb): Checks for HIV antibodies in the serum and oral fluids. Some of these tests can be done at home with home kits or at your local PCP.
- Antigen/Antibody test: test to check for HIV antigens in the blood looking at specific proteins in the blood that concur with HIV infections
- NATs: looks for the actual HIV virus in the blood, however; much more expensive or done only if someone was exposed to HIV in the environment
Is the HIV testing Safe?
HIV testing is very safe and there are no highly invasive procedures. However, with all procedures there is a risk but most of the incidences are relatively low and the benefits of the outcome weigh any harm.
Is the HIV testing confidental?
There are two types of condientality that your PCP or local doctor can have you do when getting your HIV test
- Confidential testing: these tests will include your name and the test will be in your medical record and for sharing with local health authorities, however, none of the information will be shared without your knowledge.
- Anonymous testing: you as the patient will not have to give your name and you will be assigned a random number that pertains to you only.
Where can I get this tested?
Follow the website below:
HIV, once a very dangerous and lethal disease, we as a society can minimize its risk and consequences through spreading awareness of HIV, testing, and one day we could overcome HIV so one day we are able to eradicate the virus and move forward. Diagnosing HIV earlier on can minimize your risk of the disease and establish better care for you and your community.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/hivaids.
- Huynh K, Kahwaji CI. HIV Testing. [Updated 2021 Apr 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482145/
- Image taken from: https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/hiv-aids/