Although a sexually transmitted disease, HIV can be spread outside of sexual contact. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is the virus that causes AIDS. The HIV virus causes damage to your immune system causing the body to attack itself. Specifically the CD4 cells, also known as T cells. Over time, it can destroy so many of these cells that the body is unable to protect itself by fighting off diseases and infections. If left untreated, HIV can drastically reduce the number of CD4 cells in the body. There is currently no cure for HIV. However, with proper medical care, it ca be controlled. Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can prolong the lives of many people with HIV dramatically, if taken right away, and daily. With the right treatment people infected with this virus can live nearly as long as someone who does not have the virus.
Everyone should get tested, whether you are sexually active or not. Sexual contact is not the only way to become infected with HIV. HIV can be spread by a cut coming in contact with an infected person's bodily fluids. It can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Sexually active people are at a higher risk of getting HIV while having unprotected sex. Knowing your partners sexual history is a big factor in prevention. Everyone should be tested at least once. People at higher risk of contracting the virus should be tested more often. Anyone who has been sexually active and has had unprotected sex should be tested. Te greatest way to contract HIV is through contact with an infected person's semen, blood, or vaginal fluids. If you have an STD, the risk of contracting the virus is greater. If you have shared needles, you should be tested also. Just because you do not have any symptoms does not mean that you are not positive. Many carriers do not show any symptoms and are healthy for years before showing any signs of infection. this is why it is important to be tested on a regular basis.
There are two parts to an HIV test:
First there is the initial blood screen. If the result is negative, there are no HIV antibodies or p24 antigens in your blood. If there is a positive result, the lab will take a confirmation test. this test is called an HIV 1/2 Antibody Differentiation test. It will determine if it is an dHIV-1 or HIV-2 virus.
mean that you have not been infected. Many HIV carriers feel healthy for years after contracting the virus.
Test Result Ranges:
Normal test result will be indicated by a negative.
A high result is indicated by a positive result. This means that you have been infected by the HIV virus. You should contact any partners and have them get tested as well.
If you have tested positive for the HIV virus, you should see your primary care physician to begin immediate care. Your physician can also refer you to an Infectious Disease physician. You can also get information from your local health department.