Pathology Laboratory

What all included the HIV Screening Test?

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:53 am

An HIV screening test is a quick way to determine whether you are infected with HIV. A blood test is one of the most effective ways to screen for HIV. Learn more about the benefits of getting screened.

What is the HIV Screening?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) destroys the human body’s immune system, which could lead to severe poisonous contaminations that rarely affect healthy people. HIV is contracted in the human body via unprotected sex with an infected person through semen or vaginal fluid, contact with the blood of an infected person, sharing drug needles or through pregnant women to their babies during pregnancy.

Infection with HIV causes AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) which is an advanced form of HIV. It is preventable and hence advisable to practice safe sex or by getting treated for AIDS through certain medications. 

Commonly performed HIV tests are;

What is the HIV Antibody Test Window Period?

HIV ELISA or Western blot is a set of blood tests used to detect infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in serum. Such tests may diagnose HIV antibodies, antigens or RNA.

Any blood test related to HIV conducted during the window period may give false-negative results. A window period is the duration it takes for the body to produce HIV antibodies post-infection with the virus. In most people, this period is between 2weeks and 12 weeks.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human immunodeficiency virus that leads to AIDS or gained immunodeficiency syndrome. Unlike, any other virus that the body rids of either naturally or through treatment; HIV, once contracted, cannot be eliminated from the body even with treatment. HIV mainly affects the immune system of the body, especially the T cells, also called CD4 cells.

Over time, if treatment is not sought, the HIV would damage many T cells, hampering its ability to fight any infection. Taking advantage of the weak immune system, the virus would rapidly progress into its last stage, showing AIDS. 

What are the Stages of HIV Infection?

There are three stages of HIV infection namely;

  • Acute primary infection: The onset of this stage begins within 1 to 4 weeks of getting infected and is associated with flu-like symptoms.
  • Asymptomatic stage: This stage is described as a clinical latency test and has no symptoms. HIV slowly progresses without treatment. 
  • Symptomatic HIV infection: This is the last stage of HIV infection and is more commonly known as AIDS.

2 Methods of HIV Screening

HIV infection is unnoticed and has no specific symptoms in the early stages. People who are infected may develop a brief cold or flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after becoming infected. The person’s immune system could get affected severely, starting with mild infections or further develop into chronic symptoms such as.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss 
  • Fever 
  • Cough 
  • Shortness of breath 

During the late HIV stage, more serious HIV symptoms may appear, such as:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes for over 3 months Chronic diarrhoea Lasting headaches Persistent, unexplained fatigue Soaking night sweats 
  • High fever (greater than 100°F) & chills for several weeks

HIV antibody test usually advised initially for HIV infection diagnosis. In this article, we cover two types of HIV antibody tests, those are.

  • HIV Antibody Test Rapid
  • HIV Antibody Test ELISA

HIV 1 and 2 Antibody Rapid Test

This test is done to confirm the HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies present in the blood. It also helps in differentiating HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in specimens of serum, which show reactive results with third and fourth generation HIV serologic assays. This test is not a screening test used to detect HIV infection.

Why are HIV 1 and 2 Antibody Done?
  • To confirm HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies
  • To differentiate HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in specimens of serum that show reactive results with third and fourth generation HIV serologic assays
Interpreting HIV 1 and 2 Antibody Results
  • A negative test means that the person is not infected with HIV.
  • However, a person who is at the risk of getting infected from AIDS to get screened from time to time.
  • A positive test means that the person is infected with HIV.

HIV 1 and 2 Antibody ELISA Test

This test is also done to confirm the HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies present in the blood. It also helps in differentiating HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in specimens of serum, which show reactive results in values with third and fourth generation HIV serologic assays. This test is not a screening test used to detect HIV infection.

This test is done by the ELISA method, which is also known as EIA for Enzyme Immunoassay. This test is done to analyze certain proteins which are produced by the body in response to HIV infection. The blood sample is added to a cassette that contains the HIV antigen. If the patient’s blood contains HIV antibodies, they will bind with the antigen and there will be changes in the cassette’s content.

Why are HIV 1 and 2 Antibody ELISA Test Done?
  • To screen for and diagnose HIV infection 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant 
  • If you are diagnosed with Hepatitis B, C, tuberculosis, or any other sexually transmitted disease,
  • Annual screening is advised for those who are at high risk for HIV infection like having an HIV positive sex partner, multiple sexual partners, homosexual people, and sharing needles
  • To differentiate HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies in specimens of serum that show reactive results with third and fourth generation HIV serologic assays
Interpreting HIV 1 and 2 Antibody ELISA Test Result
  • A negative HIV antibody test usually shows that a person does not have an HIV infection. However, it only means that there is no evidence of disease at the time of the test.
  • If someone tests positive on both the initial screening and supplemental testing, it is considered as a definite case of infection with HIV.
HIV Screening Test Window Period

The HIV antibody tests do not detect an HIV infection soon after exposure, before the development of antibodies. Most people produce detectable levels of antibody 3 to 12 weeks after exposure. If someone is screened with an HIV antibody test too soon, the result may be negative even though the person is infected. For those who are at increased risk of HIV infection, it is important to get this screening test done frequently to check for exposure to the virus.

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  1. Which screening tests are advised by the doctor for patients under the risk of HIV?

    There are different tests available for HIV testing. Those are; Combination of HIV antibody and HIV antigen test, HIV antibody testing, and p24 antigen testing.

  2. How is the blood sample taken for the HIV test?

    The lab technician takes a blood sample from the arm. The site from where the blood is to be withdrawn is cleaned with a swab of rubbing alcohol. This is then followed by inserting a small needle that has a tube attached to it for collecting blood. Once sufficient blood for analysis is withdrawn, the needle is removed. The site is then covered with a gauze pad.

  3. What are the symptoms of HIV infection?

    The symptoms of HIV infection are like that of influenza and other viral infections such as fever, sore throat, muscle, and joint pain. The symptoms may go unidentified for years. To avoid such a condition, the best way is to get screened for HIV infections.

  4. Is there any special preparation required for the HIV test?

    No, there is no special preparation required for the test. Inform the doctor and the lab in charge of the medications you may be taking. No other specific preparations are usually required before this test.

  5. How is this HIV test performed?

    This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The lab technician will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.

  6. Is there any risk associated with HIV test?

    There is no risk associated with the HIV test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of the needle prick. In very few cases, there can swell of the vein after the blood is withdrawn. There is no risk, but sometimes, bruising, bleeding, and infection at the puncture site can be seen.

  7. Is HIV infection curable?

    HIV infection is not curable, but if diagnosed early, proper treatment can be started. HIV infection is treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART). This therapy helps in reducing the levels of virus in the body which body,will improve the patient’s health.

  8. Which laboratory in Pune is best for the HIV test?

    There are several government hospitals, medical centers, NGOs and private labs are conducting HIV tests in Pune. healthcare nt sickcare lab is one of the advised private lab in Aundh, Pune for many HIV testing.

You May Also Interest To Read; Viral Infection Symptoms.

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