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Ask the Experts
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that infects a person and attacks the immune system, reducing its ability to fight against infections. Untreated HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a severe condition where the immune system loses its ability to defend the body. If you suspect that you have been infected with HIV, then it is imperative to get an HIV Test at the earliest so that necessary steps can be taken. Getting an HIV test at the earliest can help you get the necessary treatment and manage the condition. An HIV Test is generally a blood test that can help in diagnosing if you have the infection.>
The first few weeks post infection with HIV are known as the 'acute infection stage'. The virus multiplies rapidly during this phase and the immune system responds to it. While there may not be any symptoms immediately, many people experience some symptoms in the first couple of months including:
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Tummy trouble
- Aches & pains
Why HIV Testing is important?
Once the acute infection stage has passed, people enter the clinical latency stage; HIV symptoms during this time can come and go, or proceed very rapidly. Getting an HIV test in time can help in getting proper treatment that can slow down the progress of the disease.
Untreated HIV infects and destroys CD4 cells - a type of immune cells known as T cells. As time goes on and more and more of the CD4 cells are killed, the body loses its ability to fight infections and cancers. Healthy adults usually have a CD4 count of around 500 to 1500 per cubic milliliter, when this level falls below 200 in an infected person, it is diagnosed as AIDS. A case of untreated HIV can progress to AIDS in about 10 years and the life expectancy of an AIDS patient is around 3 years. However, if a person gets an HIV test and starts treatment early then life expectancy is near normal.
The timing of an HIV Test plays an important role in the treatment and the management of the condition. If a person who has had exposure, gets an HIV Test within the first 72 hours, then they can take post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent getting HIV. Even if a person gets an HIV test post this window, they can benefit from early diagnosis as necessary treatment can be administered immediately.
How HIV Test is performed?
An HIV Test is an STD Test; there are many different types of HIV tests available. You can book an HIV test at home and get the test done in the privacy and comfort of your home. Getting an STD Test at home is comparatively more convenient than having to go out. The phlebotomist takes a sample of the blood which is taken to the lab to check for the presence of antibodies and antigens against the virus, or for the presence of the virus itself.
HIV is not a curable infection, however, with proper treatment it can be managed and infected individuals can lead normal lives. Getting an HIV Test can help you deal with the condition effectively and live a happy life.