HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the white blood cells. HIV destroys and weakens a person’s immunity against opportunistic infections. Every person who may be at risk of HIV should access testing. HIV infection can be diagnosed using simple and affordable rapid diagnostic tests. Testing should follow this 5Cs;
- Correct results
- Connection with treatments and services
Five Risk Factors of HIV
- Sexual orientation. HIV can spread in unhealthy sexual practices between gay and bisexual men.
- Risk by gender. HIV can spread through contact with an infected man, transgender, and women. Any gender can get the infection through sexual exposure or getting from unsanitized injections, and unsafe medical procedures.
- Risk by race or ethnicity. African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are more at risk of the infection.
- Risk by age. Youth and people at 50 who are sexually active and
- Risk and substance use. People who inject drugs and use substances without sterilizing the injection increase the risk of the infection.
The Importance of HIV Testing
HIV prevents HIV infection and AIDS. People with HIV who are aware of their status can get HIV treatment. HIV testing is essential for slowing the spread of HIV infection. Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care.
HIV Tests for Screening and Diagnosis
- NATs. It looks for the actual virus in the blood. As this test is quite costly and is not routinely performed unless the person has recently had exposure to high-risk factors or is showing early signs, HIV testing is not done with this test.
- Antigen/antibody tests. It looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when you’re exposed to viruses like HIV. An antigen is a substance that initiates your immune response.
- Antibody tests. It looks for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. Tests using antibodies are the most common rapid tests and the only ones that are FDA-approved for HIV self-tests. HIV is generally easier to detect in blood from a vein than in blood from a finger prick or in oral fluid.
Is HIV Treatable?
Currently, there’s no cure for HIV/AIDS. Infections cannot be cured once they have been contracted. HIV can, however, be controlled and complications avoided with certain medications. These medications are called antiretroviral therapy. Regardless of the stage of infection or complications, anyone diagnosed with HIV should begin ART.
An ART regimen typically consists of three or more medications from several different classes of medications. The best method to lower HIV levels in the blood is to use this technique. The common ART option includes three HIV medicines in a single pill taken once daily.