When is the right time to start HIV medications (ARVs) once you are diagnosed HIV positive? Watch our expert Dr. Raja Iskandar Shah Raja Azwa
, Associate Professor in Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur explain Temanteman.org audience.
Dr. Raja Iskandar Shah Raja Azwa
, Associate Professor in Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur explains the importance of early HIV testing and treatment to Temanteman.org audience.
Testing yourself for HIV is important for your health, your relationships, your life and your future. The fact is that HIV is preventable, and you can reduce or eliminate your risk. And early detection can lead to early treatment and better outcomes. Many people live long; normal lives with early detection and proper care, because the advancements in science and HIV treatment have been significant.
If you’re worried you could have HIV, get tested now. The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances of staying healthy and living a normal life span. Getting tested for HIV means that, if you’re HIV positive, you can start your treatment before the infection causes too much damage to your body and health. This is known as ‘early diagnosis’. It’s important to get tested because someone with undiagnosed HIV can look and feel healthy for years, but the infection will be damaging their health. They can also pass the infection on to others.
Why early diagnosis and treatment of HIV matters
Once HIV is in a person’s body, it infects and destroys cells (called CD4 cells) in the blood. CD4 cells are responsible for fighting infection, and are vital for your immune system. If you know you have HIV, doctors can regularly test your blood to see how your immune system is doing. The tests measure the number of CD4 cells in your blood (your CD4 count), and the amount of HIV in your blood (the viral load). Your doctor will know when it’s best for you to start HIV treatment, which is usually given as a combination of tablets. Starting treatment can raise your CD4 count and lower your viral load.
Getting an HIV test-
The only way to know whether you have HIV is to have an HIV test. You may feel worried about getting tested, but if you do have HIV, the sooner you find out, the better. We encourage everyone who has had a risk behavior to get tested early.
You can protect yourself against HIV by using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. This will also help prevent you passing on the infection if you have it.
on Window Period before coming down for a test:
The time period between when a person is actually infected with HIV and when antibodies to HIV can be detected in the test is called the window period.
Nearly everyone who is infected with HIV (99%) will have antibodies detected by 3 months after infection.
However, currently used antibody tests are more sensitive than those used in the past.
Most people will develop detectable antibodies by 30 days after infection with HIV.
You are therefore able to do your HIV test from the first month of exposure, then confirm your status once more in the third month.
What lab tests are included in a baseline evaluation?
A CD4 count
measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. CD4 cells are infection-fighting cells of the immune system. HIV destroys CD4 cells, which damages the immune system. A damaged immune system makes it hard for the body to fight off infections. Treatment with HIV medicines [ART] prevents HIV from destroying CD4 cells.
is recommended for everyone with HIV, but the urgency to start ART is greater in people with low or rapidly falling CD4 counts. A falling CD4 count indicates that HIV is advancing and damaging the immune system.
The CD4 count
is also used to monitor the effectiveness of HIV medicines once ART is started.
test measures how much virus is in the blood. A goal of HIV treatment is to keep a person’s viral load so low that the virus can’t be detected by a viral load test. A high viral load increases the urgency to start ART.
testing identifies which, if any, HIV medicines will not be effective against a person’s strain of HIV. Drug resistance test results are used to guide selection of an HIV regimen.
Testing for STIs
Coinfection with another STI can cause HIV infection to advance faster and increase the risk of HIV transmission to a sexual partner. STI testing makes it possible to detect and treat any STIs promptly.
A baseline evaluation also includes other tests, such as a blood cell count, kidney and liver function tests, and tests for hepatitis.
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Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for maintaining your health. Take control of your health and your life. Take an HIV Test Today at your nearest healthcare provider. If you have additional questions or concerns about HIV/AIDS, please contact TemanTeman.org