HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system, which our body defense against illness. When the body infected with "HIV", it is harder to fight with infections and diseases.
There are many different strains of HIV – infected person may carry various different strains in their body. The two main types are:
The symptoms of HIV can differ from person-to-person and some people may not get any symptoms at all.
When HIV virus entering the body, most of people experience flulike symptoms known as Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS).
But sometimes HIV symptoms don't appear for years after infection.
One of five people in the world with HIV doesn't know they have it, which is why it is so important to get tested, especially if you have unprotected intimacy with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs or any other circumstances.
Here are some signs that you may be HIV-positive:
If You're Worried That You Might Have Been Exposed to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- It’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Although the prospect of being diagnosed with the disease can be scary, today you can live a long and full life with HIV, especially if you start treatment early. Knowing you are infected can also help you take precautions so that you don't pass the virus to other people.
There are several types of tests that screen blood (and sometimes saliva) to see if you are infected with HIV.
Newer tests can detect the presence of HIV antigen, a protein, up to 20 days earlier than standard tests. This helps prevent spread of the virus to others and means an earlier start for treatment. It is done with a pinprick to the finger.
Here's a look at available HIV tests:
Standard tests - These blood tests check for HIV antibodies. Your body makes antibodies in response to the HIV infection. These tests can't detect HIV in the blood soon after infection because it takes time for your body to make these antibodies. It's generally takes two to 8 weeks for your body to produce antibodies, but in some cases it can take up to six months.
In standard tests, a small sample of your blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing. Some of the standard tests use urine or fluids that are collected from the mouth to screen for antibodies.
What's the specific window period for different types of HIV tests?
Antibody tests (“Rapid” tests) -gives a positive result based on antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself. It takes your body up to 3 months to produce these antibodies at levels that can be detected by this test.
RNA tests - show a positive result based on the presence of the virus. These tests are more expensive than antibody tests, so are not offered in as many places.