Are you curious about what's involved in a HIV test? The insight below offers easy-to-understand pertinent details.
Understanding more about this common health screening empowers you to stay healthier.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is a disease that attacks the body’s immune system and makes people more likely to get infections, including infectious types of cancers. Specifically, HIV attacks and destroys the body’s T cells so it becomes very hard for the body’s immune system to work effectively. If not well managed, HIV can lead to AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which is the final stage of HIV. However, not all HIV cases lead to AIDS. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, and the only way for a person to know if he or she has HIV is to get tested. Are you asking yourself what’s involved in a HIV test? If so, that’s a question that can be answered by personnel at community health clinics, hospitals and similar settings. Have you been similarly wondering why it’s necessary to get details about HIV tests at all? That is a common line of thought, especially in people who would rather not know about their health problems unless they start experiencing severe symptoms. However, it’s essential to promptly get tested if you may have been exposed to HIV. There is no cure for the virus, but medical expertise and advanced treatments enable patients to live full and rewarding lives.
There are certain groups of individuals who are at a higher risk than others when it comes to getting HIV. Those persons should act especially quickly after potential exposure. When it first emerged in the United States, HIV primarily affected gay men who had unprotected sex. However, scientists now know that HIV is also spread through heterosexual intercourse. Regardless of your sexual orientation, there are several things that could increase your risk of getting HIV. For example, having unprotected sex with multiple partners is potentially dangerous, and anal sex comes with more risk factors than the vaginal variety. HIV is spread through exposure to bodily fluids. That’s why people can also be at risk for HIV if they use injected drugs and share needles with other users. Finally, if a person has an existing sexually transmitted infection that causes genital sores, it may be easier for HIV to enter the body from those points. If you can relate to any of the risk factors on this list, it’s important to ask your health care provider about HIV screenings and tell him or her that you want to get tested as soon as possible. The majority of HIV tests that are available, whether you take them at home or go to a health center, are also called antibody tests. Your body naturally produces antibodies due to exposure to bacteria, plus HIV. As the name suggests, antibody tests look for the presence of HIV-related antibodies in your blood. Alternatively, you can undergo an HIV test that screens your saliva rather than your blood. Research shows the antibody tests associated with blood can detect HIV a bit sooner than those that screen your saliva. Besides individual tests, some countries around the world may screen for HIV by using what’s known as an HIV RNA test. Instead of looking at individual samples, an HIV RNA test screens pooled samples of blood from numerous people. This method is often used to check whether donated blood is safe.
If you’re worried you may have contracted HIV, it’s understandable to want test results as soon as possible. Fortunately, your health care professional may offer what’s known as a rapid HIV test. If a person takes a rapid HIV test, he or she will have the results back in an hour or less. When a person thinks about what’s involved in a HIV test, they may be under the impression that it will take a while to get further information. Thanks to medical advancements in health care screenings, patients can get quick results. This enables them to take prompt action in pursuing treatment if needed.
Once you’ve done sufficient research about getting screened and why you should, it’s a good idea to plan your testing time carefully, whether you decide to get a home test kit or go to a health facility in your community. Home testing kits are often preferable, especially if a person is worried about stigma. Fortunately, it’s in your power to get tested quickly just by picking up the supplies at a pharmacy or even ordering them online. However, it’s true that there’s an optimal window of time within which a person should aim to have his or her test completed.
When people wonder what’s involved in a HIV test, they can rest assured that the lab technicians who carry them out will uphold strict confidentiality procedures. However, some individuals may still feel uneasy about getting their tests done at public facilities. They may worry that friends will see them going into the establishment to get tested, for example. In these instances, at-home tests can eliminate that fear.
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