The only way to know for sure that a person has been infected with HIV is to go for a test. HIV can be quickly diagnosed with rapid diagnostic tests the return results within a day. This speed in testing helps with early diagnoses and allows the patient to start treatment as fast as possible. It is, however, worth mentioning that a single test is not enough to constitute a full HIV diagnosis. It is necessary that confirmatory testing further conducted by a qualified health or community worker.
Since the most widely used HIV tests identifies antibodies released by the body in response to an HIV infection, it is important to know about the window period. The window period is the time between infection and the production of antibodies by the immune system, usually 28 days.
During this period, since antibodies are not yet produced in substantial quantity, standard tests might not pick up an HIV infection. Despite not being detected, HIV in such a person could be transmitted to other persons. It is, thus, necessary that a correct and full diagnosis is carried out to confirm either positive or negative results.
Getting HIV Treated
HIV treatment refers to the taking of medicines to slow the progression of the virus within the body. It involves the combination of drugs that treat HIV that is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART remains helpful to anyone with HIV regardless of the stage of the virus or healthy they are.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) works by drastically reducing the viral load in your blood to a very low level that allows people with HIV to remain healthy and prevent illnesses. When taken as prescribed, ART could reduce viral load in persons to such an undetectable viral load that essentially prevents sexual transmission of HIV to HIV-negative partners.
Without ART, however, HIV weakens the immune system to such a level that allows various types of severe infections and cancers to develop. When left untreated, HIV reduces the body’s CD4 level so much that the patient becomes at risk of getting an opportunistic infection, that is, an infection that does not normally affect people with healthy immune systems.
It is thus important that everyone with HIV begins ART as soon as possible after diagnosis as this could enable them a fairly healthy life for many years.
Possible Side Effects of ART
ART could cause side effects. However, this is not experienced by everybody. Thankfully, modern HIV medications have fewer side effects, and most people do not even experience them. Such side effects may differ from person to person and could be temporary.
Some commonly reported side effects of ART include difficulty in sleeping, pain, fatigue, rash, nausea and dizziness. Regardless of the side effects experienced, it is important to contact your health care provider or pharmacist before making any decision regarding your treatment.