Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that causes AIDS. Because of the ways the disease is spread – and since there’s presently no cure for AIDS – most people fear being diagnosed with it. But while there’s still no cured developed to treat the disease, it’s still possible to live a rather productive life with HIV. So if you ever suspect that you’ve acquired it, take the initiative to get tested for it.
Who Should Undergo an HIV Screening Test
1. See if You Have Any HIV Symptoms
If you experience flu-like symptoms that last for a week or two, but haven’t been exposed to the influenza virus, then there’s a greater chance that you have HIV. Health expert recommend immediately seeing a doctor to if you suspect that you have HIV symptoms. Getting tested is crucial since not everyone infected with the disease exhibits its symptoms. In fact, some people may already be infected with the disease but no symptoms will show even after several years of exposure.
2. Examine Behaviours That Exposed You HIV
Apart from acquiring HIV from an infected person, certain behaviours also increases one’s risk of getting the disease. People who share needles with other users, or had unprotected sex with multiple partners are at a greater risk. Also at risk are individuals treated for or diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis.
HIV can’t be transmitted just by being around someone who’s diagnosed with it, nor can you get it from the person’s saliva, sweat and tears. Insect bites and donating blood don’t also transmit HIV, since the needle used for the latter aren’t reused.
3. Get Tested if You’re Planning to Have a Baby
Medications are now available to prevent pregnant women from passing the HIV virus to their baby. However, these drugs will only be used if your physician confirms your diagnosis of the disease. So if you’re planning to get pregnant, or have put yourself at risk of the disease, consider visiting a HIV tests clinic in Singapore for a check up first to ensure everything is safe.
How to Get Tested
1. Visit an HIV Testing Site
Most of these special clinics run on a confidential basis, meaning they offer an anonymous HIV test to their patients to preserve the person’s anonymity and keep their test results confidential. Some clinics give tests on an appointment basis, while some allows patients to simply drop in. These clinics collect information about the patient’s sexual activity and orientation, ethnicity, and drug use prior to the test. Other than that, they also offer counselling before and after the screening test. Some of the tests performed at these clinics are as follows:
• Blood Sample Test – Used to search for presence of HIV antibodies in the bloodstream. It usually takes one to two weeks to process the results for this test.
• Saliva Sampling Test – Samples are taken from inside the cheeks and gums. The result of this test also takes about a week or two to process.
• Urine Test – Unlike the first two tests, the result of a urine test for HIV detection tend to be less accurate.
• Rapid Sample Test – In this test, blood is taken from the finger and is processed for 20 to 30 minutes. Patients who undergo this test may receive less counselling than with the other forms of HIV screening test.
After undergoing a particular test, make sure to confirm its result by undergoing a follow-up test using the same bodily fluid that was sampled for the first test. Also, if you tested negative within three months of possible exposure, ensure to get tested again after three months to rule out the possibility that your first test simply missed the presence of the virus.
2. Get Tested at a Doctor’s Office or a Regular Clinic
You may not be as likely to get tested anonymously in this setting, but you’ll have more flexibility in scheduling an appointment and not having to wait long hours just to be tested. In addition to the tests mentioned on the previous step, your doctor may also administer an RNA test on you to detect the virus itself. Typically, antibodies won’t show up in detectable quantities two to eight weeks after infection. But with an RNA test, your physician will be able to detect it within nine to 11 days after exposure to the virus.
3. Use a Home Testing Kit
Unlike the previous tests, a home testing test involves prickling your own finger using a provided device and putting a few blood drops on a treated card to be mailed to your chosen clinic in Singapore. Anyone undergoing this test is provided with an identification number to protect their identity. Counsellors will also be available by the phone as you wait for your results.
While home tests are accurate enough, health experts still suggest taking follow-up tests to verify the results. This is especially recommended if you receive a positive test result.
How to Manage a Positive Test Result
1. Notify Your Partner. If you ever got a positive result on your HIV testing, then it’s best to notify your partner about it and have him or her undergo the same test. Through this, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your partner while keeping the virus from spreading.
2. Consult an Experienced Doctor. Even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms, ensure that you consult a doctor who specializes in treating HIV. By doing this, you’ll get the best assistance and treatment options available for your condition.
3. Get Screened for Other Infectious Diseases. Acquiring HIV makes you more vulnerable to other infectious diseases, so ensure that you also get tested for hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis.
4. Practise Safe Sex. Using condoms during sex one of the best ways to protect yourself against the virus. Latex condoms, in particular, are said to be highly effective in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently. To prevent it from breaking during intercourse, try using some lubricant.
5. Get Retested Regularly. Health experts in Singapore recommend that individuals who practise behaviours that put them at greater risk of acquiring HIV get tested once or twice a year. With this, you’ll be able to monitor your chances of getting the disease, as well as protect yourself from developing it.
Getting tested for HIV is crucial to keep yourself from acquiring the disease. So ensure that you keep these details in mind to protect not just yourself from the virus, but your loved ones as well.