HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) has been a serious health concern for more than 40 years. And yet, there is still a lot of misinformation and misconceptions surrounding the virus and how it is detected.
Most people know that HIC is a virus that attacks and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to ward off illnesses. They also know that HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like semen and blood.
What they may not know is that although HIV is currently incurable and may lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), treatment exists to help those with HIV live healthy and productive lives.
The best way to know if you have been exposed to HIV and require treatment is through testing. Here are the answers to the HIV testing FAQs about the screening process:
Why should I be tested for HIV?
HIV testing is the only way to be sure whether or not you have been infected. If undetected and left untreated, HIV could result in life-threatening health problems. Early diagnosis of the condition enables you and your doctor to develop a treatment plan that could prevent complications and infections, providing years of healthier living. Testing also alerts you to avoid high-risk encounters that could spread the disease to others.
Who ought to be tested for HIV?
Those at the greatest risk of acquiring HIV include persons who have:
- Had sex with an infected person without using a condom
- Had anal sex without a condom
- Had vaginal or anal sexual contact without using a condom with someone of unknown HIV status
- Had a sexually transmitted disease, which increases their susceptibility to HIV infection during sex with infected partners
- Shared drug needles or syringes
If you suspect that you have been exposed to HIV, you should not hesitate to be tested.
What does HIV testing involve?
There are two types of HIV blood tests that can be used to diagnose an HIV infection:
- Antibody tests look for antibodies that your body produces in response to the virus. These antibodies do not develop immediately but will occur within a few weeks to six months of being infected.
- Antigen/antibody tests look for proteins found on the surface of the virus.
When should I be tested for HIV?
Since the average time for antibodies to develop is three to four weeks, it may not be effective to be tested for HIV immediately after you suspect you may have been infected. However, if you do so and your test results are negative, you should be re-tested in three months and again in six months. While being tested, avoid any behavior that could spread the HIV virus, including unprotected sex or sharing needles or syringes.
HIV Testing in Washington, D.C.
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, stop worrying about whether you might have a sexually transmitted infection and, instead, find out your status with a simple test. At C3 Cares, our highly qualified and experienced healthcare providers are dedicated to ensuring you get the expert medical care you deserve. We treat illness and disease privately and conveniently, and our nurse-led wellness hubs make it easier than ever to get the health and wellness screenings, education, and exams you need.
We look forward to serving you!