Whatever your worries and anxieties, remember we are here to help!
What is HIV?
HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the immune system – our body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called T- hepler cells and make copies of itself inside these cells. The T-hepler cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.
As HIV destroys more CD4 cells and multiplies itself , it gradually breaks down the person’s immune system. This weakens the ability to fight infections and diseases.
AIDS ( Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a name used to describe a number of potentially life–threatening infections and illnesses that happens when ones immune systems has been damaged by the virus HIV.
The earlier HIV is diagnosed and treatment started, most people with HIV will live a near normal life and will not develop any AIDS related illnesses
Contact us as soon as possible if you are worried that you might have been exposed to HIV. The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have a test, as symptoms of HIV may not appear for many months or even years
When to get Tested for HIV?
- if you think that you have put yourself at risk
- if you have had unprotected casual sex
- shared a needle when injecting drugs
- anyone who believes they might have HIV
- getting tested regularly once a year is a good sexual health practice for everyone who is sexually active
- those at high risk – Men who have sex with men (MSM) are advised to be tested every three months if they are having unprotected sex with new or casual partners
- testing for HIV during pregnancy is now done routinely as part of the antenatal care in most countries.
- mandatory testing – Some countries require you to have an HIV test in order to enter the country
- Insurance companies of employers who require employees to be tested for HIV
Most modern HIV tests can detect HIV from around 10 days after infection
Speak to our Doctor for Advice
The test you will be offered will depend on when your risk of infection occurred. The Doctor will advise you on the right time to have your test and when to come back for further tests and follow up if appropriate.
Why get tested for HIV tests?
- testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV
- knowing your status means you can keep yourself and your sexual partner healthy
- early diagnosis gives you a better chance of living a long and healthy life
- testing early for HIV can help put your mind at ease and reduces the anxiety of not knowing
- it is always better to know so that you can move on with your life or start treatment if necessary.
What to expect during an HIV test?
- testing usually involves taking a small sample of blood from either your fingers or arms or a sample of oral fluid..
- the procedure is usually quick, painless and all results are confidential
- the Doctor will answer all your questions and give specific advice
- the Doctor and staff will not Judge you
- rapid/Instant tests will give a result within 20 minutes. Other tests are sent to the Lab and results may take a few days
What Happens after your HIV Test and getting results?
The result of your test is communicated to you as soon as it received from the Lab.You can decide which method is best for you- e-mail, telephone or SMS text or you can telephone us for your result. If your test is negative, you can stop worrying, but it is good to keep testing regularly
If your result is positive or reactive you will need another blood test to confirm the result
You will be referred to an HIV specialist for further assessment and management
HIV tests may need to be repeated 1-3 months after the potential exposure ( this known as the window period)
HIV test variants
5th Generation HIV Test
A new HIV Test. This test is able to distinguish between HIV- 1, HIV-2 and the HIV-1 p24 antigen in the blood. In addition to the early detection offered by the 4th Generation test the 5th Generation assay provides more information by identifying HIV-1 or HIV-2 and allows results of antigen and antibody detection to be reported individually. This helps in differentiating between acute and established HIV infection.
The 5th Generation HIV test is –
- one of the best tests for detecting primary HIV infection.
- distinguishes the different types of HIV
Window period 11-days to 1 month
4th Generation HIV Tests
This test detects HIV antibodies and also for p24 antigens ( these are part of HIV virus) You have a lot of p24 antigens in your blood in the first few weeks after infection. The 4th generation test can detect HIV from 11 days to 1 month after you have been infected
Window period 11 days to 1 month
3rd Generation Tests
When you become infected with HIV, your body will start to produce specific antibodies .The third generation test detects these antibodies in your blood. If found, it means that you are infected with HIV
Window period- 3 months
Rapid/ Instant HIV tests
This test is done in our clinic while you wait. The samples are not sent to the Lab. These test for antibodies in the blood. While these are reliable, the Lab tests may be better in some situations. Rapid results have a slightly higher chance of “false positives” ( that show you have HIV when you don’t)
Window period -3months
Antiretroviral medications are used to treat HIV. They stop the virus multiplying itself in the body and allowing the immune system to repair itself and stop further damage.
Emergency Anti-HIV Medication (Post Exposure prophylaxis)
This may stop you from becoming infected if started within three days of possible exposure to HIV. Starting it as soon as possible is recommended.
The Doctor can advise you on this.
Pre- Exposure Prophylaxis
We can offer pre- exposure prophylaxis and advice – Speak to the doctor
This is a daily course of antiviral drugs that can prevent HIV infection. It is aimed at HIV- negative people who may have an HIV positive partner, having sex without a condom.
We will issue you with an HIV test certificate if it is required for Visa/ entry into a country for insurance or if required by an employer.