AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease that affects the immune system of a human being and is caused by the HIV or human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS diminishes the ability of the immune system in fighting infections and disease.
An HIV test analyses the blood for antibodies to the HIV virus.
Taking an HIV test may cause anxiety for the individual, but it is important to note that if you suspect any exposure to the virus, then early detection is essential. This way the doctor can determine the progression of the disease and can accordingly administer the appropriate treatment. Clinics and hospitals where HIV test are conducted usually also provide counseling before the test and also after it. This helps the individual in discussing his fears about the test. Also, if the test results are negative he can learn how to prevent infection. If the test is positive, he can learn how to prevent spreading the virus to others and also how he needs to maintain his health as the condition progresses. Counseling also touches upon issues as to how testing HIV positive will affect other aspects of the individual’s life. Individuals who have genital herpes are at a higher risk of becoming infected with the HIV virus during sexual intercourse. As such if the herpes test is positive, it is advisable to test for HIV at the earliest.
An HIV test can be done in two ways, the ELISA or western blot in which a sample of blood is taken for testing and the individual has to make two visits, one for counseling prior to the test and for the blood sample and the second visit for the test results and counseling after the test. The other method of HIV testing is a rapid HIV test in which the individual can go through the counseling before and after the test and receive the aids test results in just one visit. Home HIV or AIDS test are also available in which HIV testing can be done in the privacy of one’s home in which an individual can extract a blood sample on a special card with the device provided. The card can then be mailed to a laboratory for testing and the results can be obtained over the phone using an identification number. The drawback of this method is that counseling cannot be properly given to the individual. Free HIV tests are also administered at many medical centers and hospitals.
A positive HIV test result does not necessarily means that it is a positive AIDS test result as medication can help slow down the progression of HIV into AIDS considerably. The doctor will advise the individual about the condition and the right course of treatment that needs to be followed. Tests for other infections may also be conducted as the presence of HIV puts the individual at risk for developing additional conditions.