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The Importance of HIV Testing

The Importance of HIV Testing

There is a grave importance in HIV testing because not only is it important to your health, but it also helps to prevent the spread of HIV to other individuals including yourself. For instance, if you do not have HIV but it turns out your new partner does, you will be able to avoid being intimate with that individual and therefore not get HIV. In addition, while no cure currently exists for HIV, there are a number of treatments that might help lessen the effects that can be done when HIV has been positively identified.

If you are an older person, you might be wondering why you should have yourself tested. However, it has been shown that over 15% of the cases of HIV that are found to be positive, are in older individuals who are sexually active because they believe they have nothing to worry about. This false way of thinking has led to a fair amount of additional cases and it should be seriously considered. HIV testing is important because it can help individuals stop spreading HIV before others become infected.

Adolescents are another factor because of the earlier age, which they are now engaging in sexual intercourse. The average age of adolescents engaging in sexual activities with others is 13. However, it has been proven and recorded that in some instances children 10 and under are engaged in sexual activity, which is an astonishing and frightening fact. In addition, most of these adolescents are having multiple partners by this age, which is further increasing the risk and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. Sexual education should teach children not only to use protection, but also to have them be tested regularly for their health and the health of other adolescents and teenagers.

The most common mistake an individual can make is to be sexually active with one partner, break up with that individual, and then immediately become active with another even if it is months after the last sexual event. Not being tested between partners has led to a wildfire effect that has led to individuals being infected with HIV. As a result, many lives have been lost. It is also important to note that HIV is not limited to the borders of a single country and you can catch it while you are abroad, if you are not taking proper precautions. If you were sexually active while abroad, have yourself tested as soon as you get home.

If you think that you will not get HIV because you or your partner use a condom, it has not been shown that condoms stop the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, many individuals believe that if they are using condoms or the female equivalent they do not need to bother to be tested and this has further contributed to more cases of HIV. The importance of HIV testing is not only to protect your life, but also the lives of those you care about and with whom you might be intimate sexually. Remember the importance of HIV testing and have yourself be tested regularly.

A person who has been infected with the HIV virus may not be aware of it because there are no symptoms upon entry of the virus into the body. Thus, it is important for those who are sexually active and those who utilize hypodermic needles to get tested for HIV. It is important to note that the tests for HIV do not actually look for the virus but instead try to detect if there are any HIV antibodies, which are created by the body’s immune system in its effort to combat the infection. Thus, the presence of HIV antibodies means a person is HIV positive while their absence means that a person is HIV negative.

However, the body may need three weeks to three months before it is able to generate enough HIV antibodies to be noticeable in a test. Sometimes, it may even require six months before sufficient antibodies can be found to indicate the presence of HIV. Thus, it is advisable to take the test at least three months after the possible exposure. This period between the time of possible exposure and the time when the antibodies can be detected is called the HIV window period. During this time, a person is still regarded as being capable of transmitting the disease even if initial tests turned out to be negative.

There are four types of HIV tests, and they are the conventional blood tests, rapid tests, oral tests and home tests. The blood test may require one to two weeks before the results are available. And if this turns out to be positive, a different test is conducted to eliminate the potential for a false positive result. The rapid test requires only 20 minutes before the results can be obtained but once again, confirmatory tests must be done if a positive result is obtained. Meanwhile, oral testing is now possible where samples of oral fluids, such as saliva, are taken instead of blood.

Credit: HARA

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