AIDS/HIV Lab Tests FAQs

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Dr. Reeja Tharu
Medically Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team  on Feb 06, 2016
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which doctor should I consult?

You have to consult a General Physician or an Infectious disease doctor.

2. How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?

Currently, the average time between HIV infection and the appearance of signs that could lead to an AIDS diagnosis is 8-11 years. This time varies greatly from person to person and can depend on many factors including a person's health status and behaviors. Medical treatments can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS.

3. What is the connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether or not that STD causes lesions or breaks in the skin. If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact.

4. Where did HIV come from?

HIV had spread to human population from a particular species of chimpanzee, probably through blood contact that occurred during hunting and field dressing of the animals.

5. How can I know that I'm 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.

6. Can I get HIV from oral sex?

There is some risk associated with performing oral sex without protection.

While no one knows exactly what that risk involved in oral sex, but is considered to be very low.

7. Can I get HIV from casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, drinking from the same glass, or the sneezing and coughing of an infected person)?

No. HIV is not transmitted by day to day contact in the home, the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.
  • HIV is a fragile virus that does not live long outside the body.
  • HIV is not an airborne or food borne virus.
  • HIV is present in the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected person and can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex or through sharing injection drug needles.

8. Can a woman give HIV to a man during vaginal intercourse?

Yes. If the woman is infected, HIV is present in vaginal and cervical secretions and can enter the penis through the urethra (the hole at the tip) or through cuts or abrasions on the skin of the penis. The presence of other STDs can increase the risk of transmission.

9. How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?

Several studies have demonstrated that latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently.

The studies found that even with repeated sexual contact, 98-100% of those people who used latex condoms consistently and correctly remained uninfected.

10. What if I test 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.
  • It is important to know that a positive HIV test should always be confirmed, to be sure that it is a true positive.

11. How long after a possible exposure should I be tested for HIV?

The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconversion (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the "Window Period."

"When a person is infected with the HIV virus, statistics show that 95-97% (perhaps higher) of all infected individuals develop antibodies within 12 weeks (3-months)."

12. When do you know for sure that you are not infected with HIV?

The tests commonly used to determine HIV infection actually look for antibodies produced by the body to fight HIV.

Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 3 months after infection. Therefore, the CDC recommends testing at 6 months after the last possible exposure. (Un protected vaginal, anal or oral sex or sharing injecting drug needles).

13.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 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.

14. Which test should I have done: Anonymous or Confidential?

It is recommended that one has an anonymous test. The results will only be known to you and will not appear on any records.

15. What do test results 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.

16. If I test 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.

17. If I test HIV negative does that mean that my 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.

Many doctors do the following:
  • Administer lab tests to evaluate your immune system.
  • Determine if you have other diseases that might pose to be a problem in future, including syphilis, TB, hepatitis-B, and toxoplasmosis.
  • Administering vaccines. Many HIV positive people get a hepatitis-B vaccine and bacterial pneumonia vaccines, since contracting these diseases could be dangerous for immune suppressed people.
  • Prescribing antiviral treatments and protease inhibitors when tests show immune system impairment.
  • Scheduling regular checkups. Checkups may be scheduled every three to six months. Some people need more frequent check-ups, particularly when they are starting new antiviral drugs.

18. Why is CDC recommending that all pregnant women be tested for HIV?
  • If a woman is infected with HIV, there are now medical therapies available to lower the chance of passing HIV to the infant before, during or after birth. Retrovir (AZT) is the only drug currently approved for pregnant women, but there are many other promising drugs being studied in clinical trials.
  • HIV testing and counseling provides an opportunity for infected women to gain access to medical treatment, which may help to delay disease progression.
  • HIV testing and counseling can also provide uninfected women with information for prevention.

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Hi, Currently I'm working on screening of Malaysian plant as an antiHIV. Any idea where to get lab-adapted HIV strains for my study.

i want to ask about -ve p24 combo test[antigen and antibody] in day 40 and day 55 is it reliable and sufficient or not?

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