HIV and Home Testing: What You Need to Know!
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a serious virus that is spread through certain bodily fluids. HIV attacks the body’s immune systems, specifically the T (CD4) cells. If HIV is left untreated the immune system will become very damaged and unable to effectively fight off infections and diseases.
HIV that is not medically treated and managed can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Keep reading to learn more about HIV and AIDS.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the body’s T cells which are very important. T (CD4) cells help the body to fight infections effectively, allowing the body to remain healthy. HIV kills the T cells. This makes the person with HIV far more susceptible to getting infections and diseases.
HIV is caused when infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids enter another person’s body. HIV is often transmitted through sexual contact, sharing needles or from a mother to her baby during childbirth.
HIV symptoms are initially not that serious, but the symptoms progressively get worse and more debilitating when the HIV virus is not treated. HIV consists of three different stages based upon the progression of the disease and symptoms experienced.
The three stages of the HIV virus include:
Early Stage- The early stage presents itself within the first few weeks of a person becoming infected with the HIV virus. HIV may not even be detected at this point, but can still be still be transferred to others. The symptoms are like the common flu and may include a sore throat, fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fever, weakness and more.
Clinical Latency Stage- This stage of HIV can last ten years or longer. The person with HIV may not have any symptoms or will have subtle symptoms that are barely noticeable. The right medical treatments including medication can allow people to stay at this stage of the virus and live comfortably for a long time.
AIDS- This is the last stage of the virus. It causes serious symptoms because the virus has progressed and weakened the immune system. The symptoms of AIDS include night sweats, chronic fatigue, sores in the mouth and genitals, swollen lymph glands, rapid weight loss, chronic diarrhea, blotchy skin, pneumonia and more.
There is no cure for HIV. The virus can be managed using the proper treatment which may include medications. The medications used for HIV management are called antiretroviral therapy. It can help people to feel better and strengthen their immune system. It also greatly reduces the chance of transmitting the virus.
HIV Home Test
It is very important to get tested for HIV if you believe that you may have been exposed to it. The human body makes antibodies against HIV within two to eight weeks after exposure. HIV tests are now available to take in the privacy of your own home. There are many at-home tests available but it is important to look for tests that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration so that you will get reliable and accurate results. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV test and Home Access HIV-1 Test System.
OraQuick In-home HIV test works by having you swab the inside of your mouth. You will then place the swab into a tube that contains a developing solution. The results of OraQuick are available in less than one hour. A single line means that it is a negative test and two lines indicate that you may be positive for HIV. If your test is positive you should make an appointment with your family doctor for lab testing.
Home Access HIV-1 Test
Home Access HIV-1 Test works by having you prick your finger and collect a sample of your blood. The sample of your blood goes on a special piece of paper. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing. Once your blood has been tested and you will receive a phone call with your results. If you test positive for HIV it is important to make an appointment with your doctor to manage your symptoms and for education.