When it comes to avoiding the spread of HIV, condoms are by far the most reliable option. To this day, many people either never or rarely use condoms. It’s also possible for condoms to burst during sexual activity.
A visit to a doctor is warranted immediately if a person has any reason to suspect that they may have been exposed to HIV due to condom use or a broken condom.
If a person with HIV-like illness seeks medical attention within 72 hours, they may be able to begin taking a drug that lowers their risk of catching the virus. Patients can also schedule an appointment to be tested for HIV and other STDs (STIs).
The Appropriate Time to Get an HIV Test
People who suspect they may have been exposed to HIV should seek medical attention immediately.
Currently, there is no reliable way to identify HIV infection in the body after exposure. A person must be tested for HIV during a specific window period to get reliable results.
Any person exposed to HIV and receives a negative test result within the recommended window time should undergo further testing.
People at a higher risk of developing HIV should undergo testing at least once every three months and yearly.
How quickly can HIV be detected with a blood test?
There is a period called the “window period” during which a person might be exposed to HIV and still have positive results on some blood tests for the virus.
Time frames ranging from 10 to 90 days are possible, depending on the nature of the test and the individual’s immune response.
During the window period, an HIV-positive person may get a negative test result.
An infected person can still spread HIV to others within this time frame. During this time, the virus is likely to be more active in a person’s body, making transmission even more likely.
Antibodies are the immune system’s response to an infection and are what HIV tests look for. Within four to six weeks of a probable infection, HIV testing is reliable for most persons. However, it may take up to three months for antibodies to become detectable in some persons. Time frames like these are sometimes referred to as “windows.” During the window period, a person with HIV can get a negative test result. In this time frame, HIV can be transmitted to others.
Getting tested is the only way to know whether you have HIV. The accuracy of your screening findings depends on your understanding of when to get screened, though.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cannot be detected in the blood immediately upon infection. The window period is the time between when HIV enters your body and when a test can detect the virus or the antibodies your immune system creates to combat it.
It’s possible to obtain inaccurate results from a test if you take it too soon. If you wait too long to find out if you’re HIV-positive, you can miss out on early treatment and perhaps unwittingly spread the virus to others.
Starting with Treatment
If you’ve had a high-risk exposure to HIV very recently, the first thing to do is go to the emergency hospital or call your doctor immediately. Instances where this might apply including having sexual relations with someone HIV positive or being the victim of sexual assault. Drugs given as a last resort, known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), can potentially prevent HIV infection. Ideally, you would take them no later than 72 hours (three days) following exposure. It’s preferable to get going right away.
You will need to undergo an HIV test before you can be given PEP. After that, the medication should be taken daily for 28 days. Your doctor will conduct more examinations to ensure that you are not contaminated.
If you cannot get to a doctor in time to receive PEP, inquire about an HIV test. After exposure, the virus can be detected by some tests in as little as a few weeks. Even a short time after exposure, the virus can spread to other people, so it’s essential to avoid unsafe sexual behaviour and take other preventative measures.
Planned Exam Schedules
To determine if someone has HIV, one of three significant tests can be performed. It is recommended that testing be done during the testing window. If you don’t, the test could give you a false negative result when you are HIV positive.
Evaluation of antigen-antibody reactions. All other HIV tests pale in comparison to these. Instead of testing for HIV itself, they check for antibodies. Producing enough antibodies to detectable levels in a blood test takes time.
Prove it in the lab. Blood obtained from your vein is tested by technicians. Detection of antibodies begins at three weeks post-exposure.
Self-test. A quick test is another name for this. A saliva swab or blood testing kit can be used to detect the presence of the virus. These rapid assays can detect antibodies much later than traditional laboratory methods.
At three months, antibodies are present in nearly all HIV-positive people. Your doctor may ask you to retake the test 3 months after exposure, even if you have negative results 1 or 2 months after exposure.
Antigen and antibody tests in one. These analyse blood samples for the presence of HIV-related antigens, such as antibodies and proteins. Your immune system is stimulated to produce antibodies against HIV by the p24 antigen.
Sometimes as late as six weeks after infection, a combination lab test (also known as a fourth-generation test) can detect it. A finger prick blood test has a longer window of opportunity.
Analyses of nucleic acids (NATs)
These can detect HIV infections as early as 1–4 weeks after exposure, significantly earlier than previous tests. The NATs test your blood for viral fragments. Moreover, the device can quantify the amount of virus present (viral load).
Given its high cost, this test is rarely utilised for routine screening. However, you can request it if you’ve recently been exposed to harmful substances, such as sharing a contaminated needle, or if you’re showing signs of a new HIV infection, such as a high temperature or aches and pains. Remember that it’s possible to be infected without any outward manifestations.
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