HIV Testing and Treatment

If you had a risky practice is advisable to have the HIV testing and repeat it after three months so that the test results are reliable. If there has been a risky practice, it is important to go to the health center or other facility where they can make the proof.
It is recommended to get tested if:
– You are pregnant or think to be.
– If you have had sexual intercourse without a condom with one or more partners who were unaware of whether they were infected or not
– You have shared injection equipment for drug use.
– You have had any sexually transmitted infection (STI), tuberculosis or hepatitis.
– You want to stop using condoms with your regular partner.

After all, it costs nothing and is the only way to ensure that there has been no infection. The test is free and confidential. Any person, man or woman, can be infected with HIV if you have been exposed to infection through sex or blood.

What is HIV testing

The HIV test is a simple blood test. It is free, voluntary and confidential. There are places where it can also be made anonymously. HIV testing is specific. No blood test for another purpose can be done to detect the virus. An HIV test must be specifically requested.

The body takes time (different for each person), to generate specific antibodies against HIV. There are people who have two or three weeks. However, statistically we know that at 8 weeks (2 months) for the vast majority of people (95%), the body will have generated HIV antibodies. To cover the 5% missing, a period of 90 days (3 months), is considered necessary for testing after the contact to ensure positive or negative result.

Types of tests

1- 4th generation HIV Testing or combined test (Combo)

Currently, in USA, 4th generation test or combined test is performed (in most health centers). It consists in detecting in same sample, of antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 and P24 viral antigen.

If the test is quick:
– Taken from the 3rd week of possible infection, it often allows early detection of the presence of HIV and early treatment.
– A positive result, must always be confirmed (usually by the Western Blot).
– A negative result, within 45 days, following the contact risk reaches 95% reliability, and requires repeat testing 90 days after the contact risk to get considered final.

If it is laboratory test (not fast):
– The negative result after 45 days in the practice of risk, is final in 99.78%.
– Any positive test result requires confirmation, as noted above.

2. Rapid tests

These are analytical detection of antibodies that can be performed on blood, gingival tissue (saliva) and urine. At present, some of them are combined, detect antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 well as the P24 antigen, and there are also 3rd generation. The speed of the test refers to the fact that the results are available in just 30 minutes. However, it is important to know that a negative result before 3 months is inconclusive and the test should be repeated when 90 days have passed, to consider it definitive. Any positive result must be confirmed with a more specific analytical, usually the Western Blot. They are very useful in situations that require an immediate result.

3. PCR

This test is a direct detection of the virus. After 15 days of exposure to risk, it has high reliability. This is the demonstration of viral genome using molecular biology techniques. This method is reserved for special situations: studies of genetic variability, newborn diagnosis, screening of donors, monitoring of HIV-positive patients, etc.
However, as in previous cases, it is not conclusive and a screening test of antibodies should be done when they have passed 12 weeks to consider the final negative. This is because in some cases have been reported false results, both negative and positive.
This test is not usually done in public health, except in hospitals in very specific cases.

HIV testing is an informed and consensual evidence: no one can do an HIV test without informing and ask the express consent of the person.

Treatment for HIV

There is no vaccine or cure for HIV.  But there is a treatment: antiretroviral therapy.

Overview of the Antiretroviral therapy

The antiretroviral therapy (ART) involves implementation of a number of drugs that aim to prevent replication of the virus and restore the patient’s immune system. Currently, treatment consists of a combination of several drugs.

Antiretroviral drugs are highly effective, delaying the progression of HIV infection and increase survival of patients. The currently available ART does not eliminate the virus from the body, but prolongs the life and health by reducing the adverse effects of HIV on the immune system.

The therapy is individualized and must be prescribed, revised and amended by the experts who track the infected person.

Every affected person should decide when to start drug treatment after being properly informed by his doctor that have been previously assessed the state of HIV infection.

Treatment helps the virus does not multiply, reducing its presence in the body. Therefore lowers viral load and this reduces the ability to transmit the virus (although any person can transmit HIV positive, even if the viral load is undetectable).

In relation to this therapy is very important good adherence to treatment (taking doses indicated and meeting schedules). Otherwise, it decreases the concentration of drug in the blood and increasing the risk of the virus becoming resistant to antiretrovirals used and they lose efficiency. It is also important to follow the diet indicated.

The therapy therefore requires perseverance, but has improved so much life expectancy that HIV and AIDS is said now a chronic disease.

International fact

In many countries, access to testing and treatment for HIV is not guaranteed. Because of the many undetected cases, the spread is facilitated. Millions of people die every year because of HIV. Lack of access to treatment violates human rights. In addition, the spread of the pandemic in any country in the world is a global problem affecting all others.