Tests For HIV: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatments
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes and best tests for HIV.
HIV or the human immunodeficiency virus is responsible for the diminishing function of the immune system of an individual. The virus, once within the body, affects the cells in a way that disarms the immunity system of the individual and makes them very susceptible to diseases and infections.
The existence of HIV was first brought to light in 1981 and till now no certain cure for it has been found. However, there are many tests and medicinal facilities available for those who are suffering from this virus, which makes the lives of the victims comfortable.
Before we jump to any conclusions we must first endeavour to understand the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and other facets of the virus.
- Unprotected sexual contact with an individual who has HIV
- Sharing drug needles
- Blood transfusion
- From mother to baby during pregnancy, the birth or breastfeeding
How Does HIV Function and What is AIDS?
HIV affects the immunity system of an individual, specifically the white blood cells which are critical against our fight with anything ranging from a common cold to a serious infection. HIV kills off our white blood cells which are called CD4+. This eventually makes us defenceless against any other illness that we might acquire after being diagnosed with HIV.
A number of people get confused between what HIV is and what AIDS is. Some even think that they are the same virus. However, AIDS is actually the last stage of HIV.
One can be diagnosed with AIDS if their CD4+ cell count drops majorly. Keep in mind, they are extremely prone to diseases, highly infectious, and have a high mortality rate.
What Are The Stages of HIV?
- Acute HIV Infection
- Chronic HIV Infection
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Where Did HIV Come From?
Studies show that HIV was probably in existence in the 1800s, however, it was transferred to human beings a little after that. HIV was originally found in chimpanzees and was referred to as Simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV.
Various researches suggest that the virus was transported into human beings during a hunting incident when the poacher came in contact with the infected blood of a chimpanzee.
Symptoms of HIV:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
How Can HIV Be Diagnosed?
In case an individual is experiencing these symptoms they must immediately head to the doctor to get tested. If the individual has had unprotected sex or shared a needle, it is imperative that they take the test. Our body attempts to fight the HIV virus and so it produces antibodies that can be found in the blood, urine or saliva, whenever they are tested.
It takes the body up to eight weeks to produce these antibodies. So if an individual feels that they might have been exposed to the virus but their test is negative, they should take the test again after a period of 8 weeks.
Initially, the only option to get an HIV test was to go to the hospital, medicinal centre, or clinic but now self-tests can also be conducted in the privacy of one’s home.
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test is a home test that uses saliva to verify the presence of HIV in an individual. The first step is to place the swab from the test kit inside the mouth and then insert it into the solution provided.
The test takes twenty minutes to determine the results. One line means that the individual is negative for HIV and two lines indicate that they are positive.
There are many other home tests that utilize a drop of blood to determine the same. They too, take almost twenty minutes to come to a conclusion. Although these tests are reliable, one must get them confirmed from a nearby lab or clinic. Some of these tests are:
- Autotest VIH
- BioSure HIV Self Test
- INSTI HIV Self Test
- Simplitude ByMe HIV Test
DNA electronics, a technology company as well as the Imperial College of London have been working on an accurate and treatable USB test that claims to provide correct results under thirty days.
According to the World Health Organization, testing is not only drawing blood, saliva, or urine but it overlooks many more things.
The first step in HIV testing is counselling which equips one with all the information and support that one would need. The counselling should also be provided post the test regardless of the result.
Secondly, adequate preventative methods must be discussed along with treatment procedures, help groups, and other care facilities.
Third, the clinic or the laboratory must take full responsibility for delivering the correct results to the patient.
Clinics that conduct tests for HIV:
- Dimension Medi Clinic, India
- Eastside-Bellevue Health Center, USA
- Harley Street Health Centre – Private Testing & GP Clinic, London
- M Clinic: HIV and STI Testing Clinic Perth, Australia
HIV can be treated although not cured. Some of the ways that individuals can protect themselves from such viruses are :
- Practice safer sex by using condoms
- Talk to your partner to know about their medical history and experiences
- Don’t share personal items such as razors
Never use the same needle or syringe as someone else
The last stop on this ride would be addressing questions such as what is the treatment? What to expect from the doctor? How can one help themselves? What sort of tests will one have to go through?
One must remember that HIV can be kept under a check by getting two tests that keep one informed of which stage of HIV they are on. To help ourselves, we should follow the instructions of the doctor and take the medicines exactly as they have been prescribed.
The doctor will probably take the viral load test, which familiarizes us with the amount of virus present in the body. The doctor might also conduct the CD4+ test to determine the functionality of the immune system.
All in all, if the preventative measures are carefully followed and the symptoms are tracked early, HIV will only be a minor setback in an otherwise fulfilling life.
You can also read: Debunking the HIV Myths
April 20, 2021 Sam Bell