HIV is a killer disease and it is best to be aware about the early signs and symptoms of the disease to increase the chances of survival and better coping with the disease.
The diagnosis becomes even more important for people who are at risk from HIV exposure as the infection may manifest itself in the host cells without causing any apparent symptoms.
How Do HIV Infections Occur?
The Human Immuno deficiency virus, HIV can be transferred from one person to another through body fluids, like blood and serum. People having multiple sexual partners or sharing IV needles are considered at high risk and should undergo regular screening to detect HIV infections. Babies born to HIV-infected mothers inherit the infection and therefore are more likely to be HIV-infected.
How Early Diagnosis Helps?
Prolonged HIV infection weakens the immune system and when the body is not able to fight back the infection, the symptoms begin to appear. Early diagnosis and beginning the medication at the appropriate time can significantly suppress the symptoms of the disease and increase longevity. The newer vaccines can suppress the spread of infection and reduce the disease to a more controlled pace.
Early Symptoms of HIV
Constant feeling of nausea and vomiting accompanied with frequent headaches can serve as a warning bell. However it is not a definitive indication of the presence of the disease.
Loss of appetite, accompanied with weight loss amounting to more than 10% of the total body weight, and a constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue could be an early sign of the disease.
Fever and diarrhoea which prolong for more than a month and are accompanied with chronic muscle and joint pain should be considered seriously.
Sore throat and swelling of the lymph nodes which refuse to heal and multiple viral and yeast infections are early symptoms of a weakened immune system and could be indicative of HIV infection.
The enlargement of liver and spleen should be taken seriously as they could indicate an HIV infection apart from other illnesses.
A weakened immune system is not capable of fighting infections and is therefore more prone to diseases. You should watch out for opportunistic diseases like pneumonia, tuberculosis or herpes as they may indicate a spread of HIV infection.
How To Get Tested For HIV?
Most of the tests performed on HIV patients are kept discrete and therefore one should not hesitate in getting tested for the disease. HIV infection is more commonly tested through blood tests; however tests are performed using saliva and urine as well.
Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) To Test For Presence Of Antibodies
The laboratory tests basically measure the amount of antibodies produced by your body against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If you suspect HIV exposure, then you should get tested within 3-8 weeks for the presence of antibodies.
However this window period may vary from person to person depending on his immune system, therefore you should opt for a repeat test three months after the first exposure even if the test was negative within the three months.
As the name suggests, rapid test can produce results within 20 minutes using blood from a finger prick or using oral fluids.
Test For Presence Of Viral RNA
The presence of Viral RNA can be detected in the blood stream within 9-11 days of infection
PCR DNA Technology
Polymerase chain reaction can amplify the copies of viral DNA in the blood and therefore help in early Diagnosis. This provides an accurate diagnosis and helps in early detection of the disease within the first month of HIV exposure.
You may also be tested for secondary infection which can worsen if left undiagnosed.