HIV Testing - Everything that You Should Know for an Informed Decision
HIV testing confirms whether you are contaminated with HIV. HIV is the shortened form of human immunodeficiency virus and it is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is the shortened form of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and according to private doctors in London, it is the most advanced stage of the HIV infection.
An HIV test detects the presence of HIV infection. But it cannot provide the following information:
- How long the individual has been infected with HIV for.
- Whether the patient has developed AIDS.
Importance of HIV Testing
It is important to know your HIV status because that helps both you and others to stay safe.
If you are tested HIV negative: In other words this means that you do not have HIV. You should continue with the necessary measures to stay safe from HIV. The measures include using condom every time during a sexual encounter. If you are at high risk of getting HIV, start taking PrEP medicines. PrEP is the shortened form of pre-exposure prophylaxis.
If you are HIV positive: This confirms that you are infected with HIV but you can still take the necessary measures to protect your health. You have to start with consulting with your doctor about antiretroviral therapy or ART. ART is recommended for everyone with HIV infection. It is a combination of medicines that one has to take daily to keep the HIV infection under control. HIV patients have to start ART as early as possible. ART is not effective to cure the HIV infection but it helps these people live longer, fitter and healthier lives.
What Does Art Do?
ART works to minimise the viral load of an HIV infected or HIV positive individual to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load is a term, which indicates that the level of HIV in an individual’s blood is so low that it remains undetected in a viral load test. HIV positive people with undetectable viral load are not under the risk of transmitting the viral infection to their HIV-negative sexual partners.
Who Should Take HIV Test?
According to medical experts and HIV/AIDS researchers, everyone in the age bracket of 13 and 64 should take HIV tests at least once as a part of standard health care. People in higher risk brackets must get tested annually. Bisexual men and gays, who are sexually active, should take the test every 3 to 6 months.
Factors That Raise the Risk of HIV Infection
Experienced doctors at a reliable private HIV testing centre in London point out the following factors that raise the chances of getting an HIV infection:
- Having penetrative sex with an HIV positive individual.
- Having penetrative sex with someone, whose HIV status is unknown to you.
- Sharing needles and syringes.
- Doing drugs.
- Involved in paid sex or sex for drugs.
- Contacting STDs like syphilis.
- Contacting hepatitis or tuberculosis (TB).
- Having sex with anyone with any of the risk factor mentioned above.
HIV Testing During Pregnancy
Every pregnant woman should take an HIV test. In case anyone is tested positive, she can start taking the HIV medicines immediately. This minimises the risk of HIV transmission from the mother to her child and also takes care of the mother’s health.
Types of HIV Tests
There are 3 different types of tests to detect HIV infections. These include:
- Antibody test.
- Antibody or antigen test.
- Nucleic acid test (also known as NAT).
The initial HIV test is usually either an antibody test or an antigen/antibody test. NAT is not routinely used for HIV screening only because it is quite expensive. It is used only in cases where an individual has high-risk exposure or showing the early symptoms of the infection.
In case you are tested positive, a follow-up test is carried out. Sometimes people have to visit a healthcare provider for the follow-up test. The follow-up test is also conducted in a lab using the same blood sample, which was used in the initial test. If the follow-up test result is also positive, then it is confirmed that the individual has HIV.
Confidentiality Related to HIV Testing
HIV screening can be confidential as well as anonymous.
Confidential HIV testing means that the HIV test result includes your name and other identifying information. The results of confidential testing are also included in your medical record. HIV tests that result positive are reported to the health authorities and are counted in statistical studies.
Anonymous HIV testing does not require you to include your name and other personal details. While taking the test, you will get a number. At the time of collecting the report, you will just need to mention that number.
Places to Get HIV Testing
You can take HIV test at your healthcare provider. It is also available at many hospitals, community health centres and clinics. Home kits are also available on the market. STI Clinic London is a reliable place for full STD test across London and its nearby places. The clinic is located at Harley Street in Marylebone and stays open 7 days a week. Weekday timing is from 9 AM to 9 PM while that on Saturdays and Sundays is from 10 AM to 2 PM.