Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is a sexually transmitted infection that targets CD4+ cells (also known as T-cells), a type of white blood cell, and weakens the body's immune system. HIV is a sometimes considered a "silent" infection, because symptoms may not appear for several years or symptoms that do appear may mimic other common illnesses like a cold or the flu; therefore, it can be difficult for a person to know that he or she has HIV without getting an HIV test.
The HIV 4th Generation Antibody/Antigen Test screens for antibodies to the HIV virus (HIV type-1 and HIV type-2), as well as p24 antigens to the virus. The seroconversion or window period during which HIV antibodies begin to be detected in a sample is between 3-12 weeks, or 2-6 weeks for p24 antigens to be detectable in a blood sample.
The HIV RNA Early Detection Test detects the Human Immunodeficiency Virus’s genetic material called ribonucleic acid (RNA). This blood test is used to diagnose very early infections of HIV type-1 (the most common strain of HIV in the US and most of the world) because it can detect the virus’s RNA as early as 9-11 days after exposure.
Since immune systems vary from person to person, our physicians recommend everyone who gets tested before 3 months have elapsed, get tested again after 3 months have past from when you think you may have first come into contact with HIV to confirm your initial test results. Antibodies, antigens and RNA should all be detectable in a blood sample at this timeframe.
According to recent recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Americans between ages 15-65 should be tested annually for the HIV virus. Additionally, the USPSTF recommends that pregnant women be screened for HIV, including women who are untested or whose HIV status is unknown.
Getting tested is important, regardless of your current health status. Because HIV symptoms may take several years to appear, you should not assume that you are HIV negative. Therefore, you should be screened for HIV on a regular basis, particularly if you exhibit one or more of the following risk factors:
Here are some preventative measures for avoiding the spread of HIV:
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