HIV Testing

HIV and AIDS are two of the most feared and stigmatized sexually transmitted diseases in the world, but HIV testing allows for not only peace of mind, but also a deeper understanding of the diagnosis. About 1 million people in the U.S. currently have HIV, and more than 41,000 new infections happen every year. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, but thanks to modern medicine, people who are HIV positive can live long, healthy lives and fight off the onset of AIDS for much longer than ever before.

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What is HIV?

HIV and AIDS are often linked together, but they are not the same disease. HIV is an infection that is transmitted from person to person. HIV slowly breaks down certain cells in your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick and even die from infections that your body could otherwise fight off if you were healthy. People who are HIV positive usually develop AIDS as a result of the damage done to their immune system as a result of the HIV infection. However, HIV testing can detect HIV infection and open the possibility for treatment.

In the U.S., HIV infection is most commonly spread through unprotected sex. HIV is carried in semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. The virus can infect you when a fluid carrying the HIV makes contact with cuts or sores on your skin or mucous membranes, such as the inside of the vagina, rectum and the opening of the penis. You can get an HIV infection from vaginal, oral or anal sex; sharing needles or syringes for drugs, piercings or tattoos; or otherwise having HIV positive blood, semen or vaginal fluids come into contact with an open cut or sore or mucous membrane. Since HIV can also be passed to babies during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding, HIV testing is recommended for expecting mothers. HIV isn’t spread through saliva, so you can’t get it from kissing or sharing food and drinks. You cannot get HIV from blood transfusions, because needles used for blood donations are not reused and all donated blood is screened for HIV and other infections.

There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, but thanks to modern medicine and HIV testing, people who are HIV positive can live long, healthy lives and fight off the onset of AIDS for much longer than ever before.

Why Should I Order an HIV Test?

Having HIV is a scary thought, but the key to living a long and healthy life is early HIV testing and treatment. Knowing if you are HIV positive or not protects your life and the lives of your sexual partners.

Major strides in pregnancy HIV testing, prevention, and treatment have been made in the last two decades. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all pregnant women and their partners be tested and treated if HIV positive because the HIV infection can be passed during birth and breastfeeding. Babies born to HIV positive but treated mothers face decreased risk of being born HIV positive. Those babies born HIV positive should begin treatment early to optimize their health.

Source: CDC HIVCDC HIV Transmission

What are the Symptoms of HIV?

For many people with an HIV infection, the disease can seem asymptomatic. In reality, the early symptoms are often confused for another illness, such as the cold or flu. These symptoms typically last for a few weeks, and many people who are HIV positive don’t exhibit symptoms related to the disease for years afterward. These initial symptoms typically appear within the first two to four weeks of infection, and are typically body aches or fever. Many people who have a positive HIV diagnosis can feel otherwise healthy. Other less common symptoms include:

  • Body rash
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Night sweats
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches and joint pain

If you have contracted an HIV infection and it develops into AIDS, symptoms can include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Thrush
  • Chronic infections
  • Bruising easily
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring fever
  • Recurring chills
  • Recurring night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Persistent or prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Memory loss, confusion or neurological disorders
  • Lack of muscle control and intense numbness in hands and feet

How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Tested?

HIV testing is designed to detect HIV infection by searching for certain antibodies in your blood or saliva. Your body develops these HIV antibodies in an attempt to fight the infection, just like any other infection. It can take up to three months for these antibodies to develop in numbers to return a positive result on an HIV testing, so it’s recommended you wait the three months before getting tested. If you suspect that you might have contracted HIV within the last three months, you should seek out HIV early detection testing, which uses a different method of screening for the virus that is accurate in as little as nine days after the infection. If you get an antibody HIV test and it comes back negative, you should also consider having an early detection test done if you have reason to believe you could have contracted HIV within the last three months.

What Are The Benefits of an HIV Test?

Knowing whether you have HIV or not so you can begin treatment is the key to living a longer, healthier life with HIV. The sooner you know whether you have HIV or not, the sooner you can begin treatment. For this reason, HIV testing is recommended for everyone at least once in their lifetime and more frequently for at-risk individuals.

Convenience

With Priority STD Testing, you can schedule HIV testing as soon as you decide to get tested by either going online or calling. You won’t have to wait for your doctor to have availability. You can schedule an HIV testing appointment right away. Appointments are available Monday through Saturday and typically take less than 15 minutes to complete.

Affordability

At Priority STD Testing, we strive to make regular STD testing affordable, especially for individuals without insurance. We do not accept any form of private or federal health insurance, with the exception of allowing the use of health savings account (HSA) cards for payment. We do this so that your HIV test results are not communicated to your insurance company and are not included as part of your medical record.

Peace of Mind

The possibility of a positive HIV test can be scary, but the possibility of living with HIV and not knowing you have it is scarier. If you know you have HIV, you can begin treatment, and regular treatment is key to living a longer, healthier life and preventing AIDS. If you know you have an HIV infection, you can warn past and future partners and help them live healthier lives, too.

How Do I Order an HIV Test?

Ordering HIV testing through Priority STD Testing is easy and can be done either online or by phone. You can call any time Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, and our care counselors are ready to schedule your HIV testing appointment and answer any questions you might have. Our online ordering system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Reviewed on October 26, 2019

Our Tests are FDA Approved and Performed in CLIA Certified Labs