How To Tell If Someone Has HIV?


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which, as its name implies, attacks the body’s immune system. HIV can be deadly over time if not treated correctly.

HIV gradually attacks cells in a person’s immune system. As these cells deteriorate, the person becomes more vulnerable to certain infections. When a person is found to have HIV, they are referred to as being “HIV positive”. HIV is a virus that stays inside a person’s body throughout their life and has to be treated continuously. Without appropriate care and medical attention, HIV can turn deadly.

People often mistake HIV for AIDS because both infect a person’s immune system. However, there is a great difference between having HIV and having AIDS.

When HIV has weakened a person’s immune system over time, a person might be diagnosed with AIDS. AIDS is usually diagnosed when a person’s CD4 count (white blood cells) goes below 200. At that point, the immune system is so severely damaged that the person is required to take antiretroviral therapy.

It can take usually ten or more years for HIV to damage the immune system long enough for it to be considered AIDS. Without treatment, however, the virus can spread and damage the body far more rapidly. AIDS can be thought of as a more sophisticated and deadly form of HIV.

In order to treat HIV before it leads to AIDS, a person has to know whether or not they actually have HIV. To do this, one has to become informed of just how HIV is found inside the body. Doctors have no way of detecting HIV through symptoms alone like they do with normal infections. This is because HIV symptoms are similar to symptoms in other diseases. This makes it hard to pinpoint whether a patient has HIV or not.

Fortunately, now there are tests now that can check whether a person has HIV. An HIV test usually checks whether or not there are antibodies in your blood or any other fluid in your body, like the saliva. A person who has HIV will usually have antibodies that are very unique. This means that a person with HIV will not have the same antibodies as a normal person has. The body will produce different kinds of antibodies.

There are many types of tests to check for HIV in the body of a patient.

The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test includes oral fluid, blood and urine samples and can be done by a specialist or in a clinic.

This kind of test can detect specific antibodies weeks after becoming infected with HIV. The time between infection and the actual test can be anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks. The results of an ELISA test are given to the person in roughly a week. This can give the person time to gain as much information as possible about HIV contagion.

There is a quicker way to test for HIV however. The Rapid HIV test, as it is called, tests the antibody count in the blood stream by pricking the finger of a patient with a needle and taking the small blood sample for examination. This test is usually done in a clinic. The results are often available 20 to 30 minutes after the test. However, a second test, like the Western Blot, is necessary to verify the results.

The Western blot is the most common test done on patients to verify whether they are truly HIV positive or not. The Western blot uses electrophoresis in a laboratory to check for HIV and is only done for secondary confirmation purposes as it requires a high level of technical skill.

Using these tests, doctors can detect whether or not someone has HIV or not.

It is important for people to remember that HIV can spread through body fluids. The virus can only infect someone if the HIV-infected fluids of one person enter the bloodstream of the other. For this reason, the danger of unprotected sex is taught at schools and universities alike, because this information could save lives.

In the end, if you or someone you know thinks they have contracted HIV, go to a clinic in order to do some testing and verify whether you truly are HIV positive or not.

Good luck!