National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA)
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HIV Diagnosis
Diagnosis

Can I tell from looking at a person that he/she is HIV positive?

NO, because you can be infected with HIV for years and still look healthy, one can only know that she/he is HIV positive after taking an HIV test.

Get tested

How soon can I get an HIV test:

It usually takes 5 to 30 minutes using a RAPID TEST which has a short waiting period and it is today the commonly used test worldwide.

How soon can I test positive after getting infected with HIV

The HIV antibodies generally do not reach detectable levels in the blood till about three months after infection. This period, from the time of infection till the blood is tested positive for antibodies   is called the window period. Sometimes the antibodies may take even six months to show up.

Window Period

How safe is the window period?

Even if the tests are negative, during the window period, the amount of virus is very high in an infected person. Hence, if a person is newly infected, the risk of transmission is higher.

Sometimes, the antibodies might take even six months to show up. If a person is highly likely to be infected with HIV and yet both the tests are negative, the   health provider may suggest a repetition of the tests after three months or six months when the antibodies are more likely to have developed.

Detectability

Is HIV only detectable in blood?

Diagnosing HIV can be done using blood, saliva, or by using cells from the inside of the cheek

If my partner has tested for HIV, should I also take a test?

Your partners HIV status is not always your status.

Your partners HIV status is not always your status. More over there are instances where people who have had unprotected sex for some time find themselves having different HIV status which is called discordance, and concordance when the results are the same. A couple with   discordant results should be assisted as the uninfected partner will get infected should they continue to engage in unsafe sex.

Are there any recommended steps to be followed before and after the blood tests?

Psychological counselling is very essential to prepare clients for testing as well as possible implications after communication of the test results:

The process of getting tested for HIV can generate a variety of extreme emotional reactions, anger and denial. Hence psychological counselling is very essential to prepare clients for testing as well as possible implications after communication of the test results. This is called Pre-Test Counselling and it is undertaken prior to the HIV test.
Disclosure of the test result to the client by the health care provider is made only if the client is mentally and emotionally ready to accept the results. Once the test results have been revealed the client is provided with another round of thorough counselling, Post Test Counselling. Since there is still considerable stigma and discrimination the decision to test should be preceded by internal self-introspection and personal preparedness.
Fortunately there are a number of benefits in knowing one’s status such as gaining early to treatment and proper planning for the future.

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