How can I tell if I am infected with HIV?
The only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You can't rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV don't have any symptoms at all for many years.
Similarly, you can't rely on symptoms to establish that a person has AIDS. The symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is HIV antibody Testing?
HIV testing determines whether or not you are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus destroys the body's ability to fight off illness, and is the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
Why should I Be Tested? ? The Benefits of Knowing
- Immune system monitoring and early treatment can greatly improve your long term health.
- Knowing you are positive may help you change behaviors that would put yourself and others at risk.
- You will know whether or not you can infect others.
- Women and their partners considering pregnancy can take advantage of treatments that potentially prevent transmission of HIV to the baby.
- If you test negative, you may feel less anxious after testing.
How is HIV spread
- Anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom. If you have another sexually transmitted disease, you chances of contracting HIV during sex are much higher.
- Direct blood or mucous membrane contact with an infected person's blood.
- From an infected mother to her child, during pregnancy, birth, or breast feeding.
- Sharing needles or equipment for drug use.
Who Should I Be Tested?
- Testing is recommended if:
- You think you may have been exposed to the HIV. If you're not sure, take this
- You are sexually active (3 or more sexual partners in the last 12 months)
- You are uncertain about your sexual partner's risk behaviors.
- You are a male who has had sex with another male.
- Any of your male sexual partners has had sex with another male.
- You have used street drugs by injection, especially when sharing needles and/or other equipment.
- You have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- You are a health care worker with direct exposure to blood on the job.
- You are pregnant. There are now treatments that can greatly reduce the risk that a pregnant woman who has HIV will give the virus to her baby.
- You are a woman who wants to make sure you are not infected with HIV before getting pregnant.
- Even if you have no risk factors for HIV infection, you may still want to get tested to ease your own mind. This also encourages everyone to be more responsible about HIV transmission.
When Should I Be Tested?
After a possible HIV exposure:
An HIV test will not detect the presence of the HIV virus immediately after exposure. Statistics show that 96% (perhaps higher) of all infected individuals will test positive within 2 to 12 weeks. In some cases, this may take up to six months.
Think about this: if you got a negative test at six weeks, would you believe it? Would it make you less anxious? If so, go for it. But to be certain, you will need to be tested again at six months.
- Many people continue to engage in some degree of risky behavior, and choose to be tested for HIV periodically (every six months, every year, or every other year.)
- Since the window period for developing a positive test result can be as long as six months, it would rarely make sense to be tested more often than this.
- There are clear benefits to early medical attention for infection with the HIV virus. There is little agreement on how early this must be. But if you wait longer than two years, treatment of the disease may be less effective.
- If you are beyond the six month window period from a possible HIV transmission event and were reported HIV negative by an accurate HIV test (and you are not subsequently put at risk for HIV), you can consider yourself HIV negative. There is no need to retest. However if it eases your anxiety, you may wish to take the test again periodically.
What About My Privacy? Confidential or Anoynomous.
- Anonymous testing means that absolutely no one has access to your test results since your name is never recorded at the test site. Confidential testing sometimes means identifying yourself in some manner to the test site, with their assurance that this information will remain private.
- Anonymous test sites are highly recommended because:
- The quality of the education and counseling that is provided is very good.
- The testing is usually free or minimal fees.
- The testing is reliable and automatically includes confirming tests.
- It protects you from risks of discrimination or adverse impact, especially in applications for insurance.
- Sometimes even taking an HIV test, regardless of the result, might cause an insurance application to be refused.
- Where Can I Get Tested?
You can arrange for HIV testing at an established testing center, or at your doctor's office. Test results are usually available within one to two weeks. Home test kits allow you to mail in a sample, and receive your results sometime later via telephone.
Click here for Statewise List of STI Clinics
Click here for Statewise List Of VCT, ARVs and PPTCT Centres
If you would like to talk to someone and have any questions, you can contact;
What Do My Test Result Mean?
A negative test result means:
- If you have not engaged in any risky behaviors for the last 6 months, you are not currently infected with HIV. If you have had unprotected sex or shared needles or have other risk factors in the last 6 months, you should be tested again. You could still be HIV positive, and pass the HIV on to other people, even though your test is negative.
- A negative test does not mean that you are immune to HIV.
- Some people who have a negative test may be tempted to continue risk behaviors, believing "It can't happen to me." If you continue unsafe behaviors, you are still at risk.
A Positive test result means:
- You are infected with the HIV virus. This does not necessarily mean that you have AIDS.
- A person with HIV is infected for life. He or she can pass the virus to others by having unprotected sex, or by sharing drug use needles or equipment. To protect yourself and others, you need to avoid doing these things. A woman who has HIV can pass it on to her unborn or breast feeding baby. Those carrying the HIV virus should not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs, or other tissue.
- You should choose a doctor to monitor the progression of HIV in your body, and advise you on when it is appropriate to begin treatment. There are differing opinions about how early to begin treatment, but it's clearly much better to begin treatment long before symptoms of AIDS develop. The only way you can tell when to begin treatment is by having a doctor interpret additional tests. You may wish to change to a doctor that specializes in HIV care.
- If your HIV test is positive, your sexual partners and anyone with whom you have shared drug injection equipment may also be infected. They should be told they have been exposed to HIV and advised to seek HIV counseling and antibody testing. You can tell them yourself, work with your doctor, or ask for help from the local health department. Health departments do not reveal your name to sexual or drug-use partners, only the fact that they have been exposed to HIV.
Should I Take the Test Again?
Periodic testing has the following benefits:
- It takes up to 6 months for the HIV virus to be detected. If you have tested before this time has passed, you should test again to allow for this.
- Always knowing your HIV status may empower you to continue doing the right things.
- May give you an increased peace of mind in knowing you are negative.
- If you should become positive, you will know at the earlier possible moment and will have more treatment options available to you than if you learn about this later.
Where can I get tested for HIV infection?
Many places provide testing for HIV infection. It is important to seek testing at a location that also provides counseling about HIV and AIDS. Common locations include local health departments, private physicians, hospitals, and test sites specifically set up for HIV testing.
What if I tested HIV positive?
- If you test positive, the sooner you take steps to protect your health, the better. Early medical treatment, a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can help you stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions. It is important to know that a positive HIV test should always be confirmed, to be sure that it is a true positive. If your test result is positive, there are a number of important steps you can take immediately to protect your health:
- See a doctor, even if you don't feel sick. Try to find a doctor who has experience treating HIV. There are now many new drugs to treat HIV infection. There are important tests, immunizations and drug treatments that can help you maintain good health. It is never too early to start thinking about treatment possibilities.
- Have a tuberculosis (TB) test done. You may be infected with TB and not know it. Undetected TB can cause serious illness. TB can be treated successfully if detected early.
- Recreational drugs, alcoholic beverages and smoking can weaken your immune system. There are programs available to help you stop.
- Consider joining a support group for people with HIV infection or finding out about other resources available in your area, such as HIV/AIDS-knowledgeable counselors for one on one therapy. There are also many newsletters available for people living with HIV and AIDS.
There is much you can do to stay healthy. Learning as much as you can is a step in the right direction. Local and/or national resources may be available. Many HIV/AIDS organizations provide services free or on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay.
What is the difference between an Anonymous and a confidential Test?
Anonymous and Confidential use the same testing method. The only difference is one does not have your name attached to the results.
Anonymous antibody testing is available at Anonymous Test Sites. Anonymous testing means that absolutely no one has access to your test results since your name is never recorded at the test site.
Confidential antibody testing means that you and the health care provider know your results, which may be recorded in your medical file
Which test should I have done: Anonymous or Confidential?
It is recommended that one have an anonymous test. The results will only be known to you and will not appear on any records.
Some reasons that one would need a confidential test would be: a result is required for immigration purposes or for some international travel visas; a pregnant woman who is clearly at risk might choose to be tested through her doctor, rather than anonymously, since the result is of key importance to the course of her medical care.
What do HIV/AIDS test result mean?
A positive result means:
- You are HIV-positive (carrying the virus that causes AIDS).
- You can infect others and should try to implement precautions to prevent doing so.
- A negative result means:
- No antibodies were found in your blood at this time.
A negative result does NOT mean:
- You are not infected with HIV (if you are still in the window period).
- You are immune to AIDS.
- You have a resistance to infection.
- You will never get AIDS.
If I test HIV positive; does that mean that I will die?
Testing positive for HIV means that you now carry the virus that causes AIDS. It does not mean that you have AIDS, nor does it mean that you will die. Although there is no cure for AIDS, many opportunistic infections that make people sick can be controlled, prevented or eliminated. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life for people living with AIDS.
If I test HIV negative does that mean that may partner is HIV negative also?
No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status. Your negative test result does not tell you about the HIV status of your partner(s). HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time there is an exposure.
No one's test result can be used to determine another person's HIV status.
I am HIV positive. Where can I go for information about treatment?
For information on HIV/AIDS, how to prevent HIV or to get HIV test, you can contact
- A public health unit
- Zonal Hospital
- DeleK Hospital
- Your doctor or primary health care provider
- Your local AIDS organization
- Or come to us