HIV Testing and HIV Screening – There are many types of HIV tests in the current market which vary in what they look for. Some tests look for the HIV virus in the body while others screen for antigens (which are pieces of proteins from the HIV virus), antibodies or both. Because they vary in what they look for, different HIV tests have different window periods. This is why it is important to see a sexual health doctor so that they can analyse your sexual history and decide on a test with maximum accuracy based on which stage of HIV infection you are in.
HIV Testing and Screening & Stage of HIV infection
10 Days after HIV Infection…
When someone gets infected with the HIV virus, the virus attaches itself to the DNA of the cells that make up your immune system. It then triggers the cell to replicate millions of copies of the HIV virus. As the amount of virus in the cell increases, the cell bursts and releases the viruses into the blood stream. This triggers a cascading effect and infects more cells in the body. Usually at about 10 days after getting infected with the virus, the person will have millions of viruses in each drop of blood.
This is when the HIV RNA PCR Test comes in handy and will be able to detect the viruses.
14 Days after HIV Infection…
About 2 weeks after geting infected, pieces of protein from the outer shell of the HIV virus will start to break and flow through the bloodstream. This is when the HIV ANTIGEN TEST will be able to detect this protein. This proteins will continue to rise and peak at about 4 weeks after getting infected, making this the most sensitive period to detect the antigens.
28 Days after HIV Infection…
At approximately 4 to 6 weeks, your body’s immune cells will start to form different types of special antiodies tailored to fight off the HIV virus. Different tests are able to detect different types of antibodies.
4th Generation HIV Testing will be able to detect HIV at this stage.
Over the years there have been many new tests that have been produced to improve the detection rate, however, they may still give false positive results.
This is when a person who has not been infected with HIV virus triggers a positive result in the test.
Therefore, all positive results will need to be verified before a person is diagnosed with HIV.
Recently, rapid HIV screening kits have been coming more frequently used. It is conducted by the doctor in the clinic itself after obtaining drops of blood from a finger prick instead of sending a tube of blood to the laboratory for testing.
Most rapid kits in the market can give a result within 15 to 20 minutes which results in a shorter waiting time and less anxiety for the patients. Moreover, there is also a rapid HIV kit test which can be done with oral fluids rather than blood. Yes! No finger prick is required.
There are a few centres in Singapore that are approved to perform anonymous HIV screening. That’s right! You do not have to provide any personal particulars to get tested and even if it turns out positive, you will not be notified to any authority.
At Dr Tan & Partners, all our Doctors are specially trained to give you the right advice on HIV screening tests. Stop worrying unnecessarily and visit our clinics today.