What is an HIV Early Detection Test?

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There was a time when being diagnosed with HIV was considered a death sentence. Thankfully though, decades after the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, treatments have come a long way. In today’s world people live long and healthy lives infected with HIV.

One key component to living a healthy life with HIV is to detect the virus early. If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to HIV, you should get tested. One test that can be helpful is an HIV early detection test.

HIV early detection tests, also known as HIV RNA tests, can detect the HIV virus directly instead of looking for the antibodies your body creates to combat HIV. These tests can detect HIV much sooner than HIV antibody tests.  HIV RNA is the first marker of an HIV infection. Since these tests are capable of recognizing the virus as early as two weeks post-exposure, they are are very effective in determining infection at a very early stage.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that every sexually active person between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV. Only certain bodily fluids can transmit HIV from one person to another. These fluids include blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk. According to the CDC, the most common forms of HIV transmission in the U.S. are through oral, anal and vaginal sex. Sharing intravenous drug equipment can also lead to transmission of the infection.

If left untreated, the HIV virus can advance to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. When HIV becomes AIDS the immune system will become terribly damaged and patients are far more susceptible to other infections. Once HIV has progressed to AIDS, the infection will eventually lead to death. However, if you are taking treatment before this stage and maintain a low viral load, you may enjoy a near normal lifespan.

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to HIV or any other STD, you should have testing performed. This can often be the best way to know the current status of your sexual health.

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Article by Robert Francis Curtis

Robert studied at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked as a Care Adviser here at Analyte Health for a while and looks forward to spreading more information about sexual health.

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