HIV Screening Test

An HIV test examines a blood sample to determine whether people have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV is a virus that affects and destroys immune system cells, which protect the body against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The body will struggle to fight infections and other disorders if it loses too many immune cells.

HIV is a virus that spreads through contact with infected blood or body fluids. This can occur during physical activity or when sharing needles or other drug-injecting equipment. If HIV is not treated, it can progressively impair the immune system, leading to the development of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the final and most severe stage of an HIV infection and makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections from opportunistic germs that would not typically be harmful to healthy individuals. This can result in life-threatening illnesses and an increased risk of certain cancers.

However, not everyone who contracts HIV will develop AIDS. Getting tested for HIV early is essential, as it enables early detection and treatment, leading to better health outcomes and reducing the risk of HIV transmission to others.

What is it used for ?

One can find out if an individual has HIV by taking an HIV screening test. To determine if you were HIV-positive, a routine test may be conducted or after a possible exposure.

If HIV is detected early, one can take medications to protect the health and prevent AIDS. And medications can help prevent HIV transmission to others.

Why do I need an HIV test?

  • Have anal or vaginal intercourse with an individual who is HIV positive or whose HIV status is unknown.
  • Shared needles, syringes, or other drug-related materials when injecting substances.
  • Have an STI like syphilis that was transmitted sexually.
  • Had intercourse with someone who has done anything listed above.

You should get tested for HIV at least once a year if you routinely engage in any of the activities mentioned above. Depending on their risk, some individuals, especially men who have sex with men (MSM), may benefit from more repeated testing. Find out how frequently you should get tested by the health provider.

The doctor may request an HIV test if you are pregnant. This is due to the fact that HIV can be transmitted to the baby throughout pregnancy, birth, and through breast milk. Individuals can take medications during pregnancy and delivery to lower the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby.

What happens during an HIV test?

When you arrive for the test, a staff member or counsellor will explain the sample type and how it will be taken and a consent form will be filled before the test is performed.

  • A healthcare provider will draw a blood sample from the vein in the arm using a small needle for blood from a vein, and a little amount of blood will be collected in a test tube or vial.

How do I prepare for the test?

Preparing for an HIV test is relatively simple. No special arrangements are necessary. If you are undergoing an HIV test at a health clinic or community program, a counsellor may discuss the risk factors for contracting HIV. Therefore, preparing a list of any questions you may have beforehand may be helpful.

Are there any risks to the test?

Having an HIV screening test poses relatively little risk. If you have blood drawn from a vein, one may experience some pain or bruising at the site where the needle was inserted, although most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A negative HIV test result indicates that no signs of HIV infection were detected in the sample submitted. However, a negative result does not always guarantee that you are free from HIV. It is possible to have an HIV infection, but it may be too early for the test to detect it. In such cases, a subsequent test may be required, and the healthcare provider or an HIV counsellor can provide you with more information regarding the test results and whether you need to take another test.

A positive test result indicates that the sample included symptoms of HIV infection. Unless you received a NAT test, you would require a follow-up test to confirm an HIV diagnosis.

  • If you took the test at a medical office or community program, the testing facility would schedule the follow-up test if required.

Even if you are still healthy, it is critical to begin antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART cannot cure HIV, but treatment can reduce the level of the virus in the blood to the point where a test cannot detect it. If you have HIV, you should see a healthcare provider on a regular basis for testing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the symptoms of HIV?

In the early stages, HIV may not produce any symptoms. However, as the infection progresses, symptoms may include fever,fatigue,weight loss,night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes.

2. Can I test positive for HIV even without symptoms?

Yes, it is possible to be infected with HIV and not experience any symptoms.

3. Can I get HIV from medical treatment or a blood transfusion?

In developed countries, the risk of HIV transmission through medical treatment or blood transfusions is extremely low due to rigorous screening procedures. However, in some developing countries, the risk of transmission may be higher.

4. How accurate are HIV tests?

HIV tests are generally very accurate, but there is a small chance of false positives or negatives. False positives can occur if the test detects HIV antibodies in a person who does not have HIV, while false negatives can occur if the test fails to detect HIV antibodies in a person who does have HIV.

5. Who should get an HIV test?

Everyone should consider getting an HIV test at least once in their lifetime. Those who engage in high-risk behaviours such as unprotected intercourse or sharing needles should get tested more frequently.

6. What is the cost of an HIV test?

The cost of an HIV test ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 800.

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