We all know how deadly HIV can be. Any disease that doesn’t have cure is dangerous, and HIV is no exception. It is true that till date there is no cure for HIV but there is treatment. Without proper treatment of HIV, a patient’s immune system becomes very weak and they become very sick with life-threatening diseases. Anyone can get infected, no matter what the age, sex, race is.
A person can be the victim of this disease without even knowing it. But there are some symptoms like sore throat, swollen glands, muscle pains, night sweats, vomiting, skin rashes etc., which one need to be aware of. In case, you have any doubt about you being HIV positive, timely HIV screening is very crucial. It is important for a person to monitor the symptoms as early as possible and get immediate treatment. With proper and timely treatment, a person can survive a lifetime. It also helps in decreasing the risk of transmitting the disease to other persons.
How HIV is transmitted?
The HIV is infected through five body fluids that are blood, semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid and breast milk. HIV can get transmitted when one of these fluids gets passed into the bloodstream of another healthy person in any way. There are three main ways through which these liquids pass that are:
- Unprotected sex
- Shared needles
- To a baby when pregnant.
How to prevent HIV?
If you want to prevent yourself from getting HIV, then you have to avoid all ways that can pass the virus to your body like practising safe drug use, safe sex etc. Going for HIV screening on frequent basis is also very important to know if you are at risk.
HIV PrEP is one of the new approaches to prevent HIV. It stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis also it is a daily pill that can give you protection against HIV. It is good for people who are at risk of getting exposed to HIV. If you are HIV negative and got exposed to HIV, then you can stop it with the help of by HIV PrEP before it turn into infection. It is a kind of emergency medicine that people take after getting exposed to the virus. You can ask for a clinic or an emergency room and ask for HIV PrEP.
How to know whether you have HIV or not?
The one and the only way to know whether or not you have HIV is by getting tested. Most of the people don’t know they have it but knowing it can help you in keeping yourself as well as your partner safe. If you are active sexually, then it’s better to get tested every three months. If you are wondering where you can get tested, well, then you can ask it to your health provider for a test. There are so many medical clinics, community health centre, as well as hospitals who offer HIV test.
Now another important question that may come to your mind is what kind of test is perfect for you?
Most of the HIV test is very accurate in detecting it, but each test has its window period, which is the time difference between HIV exposure and detection. There are three types of HIV test:
- Rapid HIV test: This is a finger stick blood test that will show the result in less than one minute. They are sometimes called an antibody test as it looks for antibodies that are present in your blood. Those antibodies are produced in your body when you get exposed to HIV.
- Combination HIV tests: It is a blood test that provides results in less than one week. It is sometimes called the fourth-generation test that looks for both antibodies as well as antigens. The antigens are foreign substances that activate your immune system. The HIV antigen p24 is produced even before antibodies are formed.
- The nucleic acid test: It is a kind of blood test that will produce a result in less than one week. It is sometimes called a viral load test which is used to confirm an HIV infection. It is not much common and is used when a person has a positive combination or rapid HIV test.
You have to talk to your health care provider to know which test is perfect for you.
If you are thinking about what you will do if your HIV test comes positive, well then your health care provider will guide you for further steps. Although you cannot get a permanent cure; you can reduce it and the virus becomes very less effective.
Although it is treatable, early detection is always a good option. Here are a few benefits of going for early HIV screening:
- Early detection helps to deal with HIV in a better way: The HIV test that offers accurate outcome right after infection can be controlled in a better way. It also provides a good opportunity to get access to all services and support that helps in managing their health and well being. Another advantage is people get access to HIV treatment even before their immune system gets damaged, thereby giving long term health results and preventing HIV transmission. People with less viral load cannot pass HIV to their partners.
- It helps in preventing new infections: Most of the new HIV infections come from people who are infected newly because of the high levels of virus in their bloodstream as well as genital tracts. Another reason is the concerned person is unaware of the fact. Thus, early diagnosis helps a person to make more informed decision like safe sex and safe use of the drug. Studies show that when people are aware of their HIV infections, they take a step to prevent transmission.
Detecting HIV infections early not only helps people who are seeking HIV screening test and most important thing is that it helps in preventing transmission of HIV within a large population.