HIV can be diagnosed with a blood or saliva test. Available tests include:
Antigen/antibody tests. These tests usually involve drawing some blood from a vein. Antigens are substances found on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) itself and usually can be detected — a positive test result — in your blood within a few weeks after exposure to HIV.
The immune system produces antibodies when it is exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may take weeks to months for the antibodies to be detected. An antigen/antibody test kit can take two to six weeks after exposure to the virus to become positive.
Antibody tests. These tests look for antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in your blood or saliva. Most rapid HIV tests, including self-tests done at home, are antibody tests. It can take three to 12 weeks after exposure to the virus for antibody tests to become positive.
DNA tests (NAT). These tests look for the actual virus in your blood (viral load). It also involves drawing a blood sample from a vein. If you’ve been exposed to HIV in the past few weeks, your doctor may recommend a DNA test (NAT). A DNA test (NAT) will be the first test to become positive after exposure to HIV.
Talk to your doctor about what HIV tests are right for you. If any of these tests are negative, you may need to have a follow-up test weeks to months later to confirm the results.
Disease staging tests and treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, it’s important to find a professional trained in HIV diagnosis and treatment to help you:
Determine if you need additional tests
Determine the best antiretroviral therapy for HIV that is right for you
Follow the progress of the disease and work with you to control your health
If you’ve been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, there are several tests that may help your doctor determine the stage of the disease and the best treatment, including:
CD4 T cell count. CD4 T cells are white blood cells that are targeted and destroyed by HIV. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, HIV infection progresses to AIDS when your CD4 T-cell count drops below 200.
Viral load (human immunodeficiency virus RNA). This test measures the amount of virus in the blood. After the start of HIV treatment, the goal is for the viral load to become undetectable. This clearly reduces your chances of developing opportunistic infections and other complications related to HIV.
drug resistance. Some strains of HIV are drug-resistant. This test helps your doctor determine whether the type of virus you have is resistant and guides treatment decisions.
Tests to make sure there are no complications
Your doctor may also order lab tests to check for infections or other complications, including:
Hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection
Sexually transmitted diseases
Liver or kidney damage
urinary tract infection
Cervical and anal cancer
Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Once you have an infection, your body cannot get rid of it. Despite this, there are many medications that can control HIV and prevent complications. These medicines are called antiretroviral therapy. Anyone diagnosed with HIV should start ART, regardless of the stage of infection or complications.
ART is usually a combination of three or more medicines from many different classes of medicine. This approach has the best chance of reducing the amount of HIV in the blood. There are many antiretroviral treatment options that combine three HIV medications into one pill, taken once a day.
Each class of medication blocks the virus in a different way. Treatment includes combinations of drugs from different classes for:
Taking into account individual drug resistance (viral genotype)
Avoiding the creation of new drug-resistant strains of HIV
Maximum inhibition of the virus in the blood
Usually two drugs from one class are used, plus a third drug from a second class.
Categories of anti-HIV drugs include:
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) inactivate a protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include efavirenz (Sustiva), rilpivirine (Edurant) and doravirin (Pifeltro).
Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are defective copies of the building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include abacavir (Ziagen), tenovir (Viread), emtricitabine (Emtriva), lamivudine (Epivir) and zidovudine (Retrovir). There are drug combinations available, such as emtricitabine/tenofovir (Truvada) and emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy).
Protease inhibitors inactivate the HIV protease enzyme, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir (Prezista) and lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra).
Integrase inhibitors work by disrupting a protein called integrase that HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 T cells. Examples include pecticravir sodium/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide fumar (Biktarvy), raltegravir (Isentress) and dolutegravir (Tivicay).
Entry or incorporation inhibitors block the entry of HIV into CD4 T cells. Examples include infofertide (Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
Start and continue treatment
Antiviral therapy should be offered to everyone with HIV infection, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count or symptoms.
Continuing effective antiretroviral therapy with an undetectable serum viral load of HIV; It is the best way to stay healthy.
For ART to be effective, it’s important to take your medications as prescribed, without missing or skipping doses. Continuing ART with an undetectable viral load helps:
Maintaining a strong immune system
Reducing the chances of infection
Reducing the chances of contracting treatment-resistant HIV
Reducing the chances of transmitting HIV to other people
Continuing to take HIV treatment can be difficult. It’s important to talk to your doctor about possible side effects, difficulty taking medications, and any mental health or substance use issues that might make it difficult to continue taking ART.
It’s also important to schedule regular follow-up medical appointments with your doctor to monitor your health and response to treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you’re having problems with HIV treatment so we can work together to find ways to address those challenges.
Side effects of treatment
Side effects of treatment may include:
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Liver and kidney damage
Weakness or loss of bone
abnormal cholesterol levels
High blood sugar
Cognitive and psychological problems, as well as sleep problems
Treatment of age-related diseases
It can be difficult to treat some health problems that are a normal part of aging if you have HIV. Some common medications, for example used to treat age-related heart, bone, or metabolic diseases, may not interact well with anti-HIV medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor about other illnesses you have and the medications you’re taking.
If you start taking medications prescribed to you by another doctor, it’s important to tell them about the HIV medications you’re taking. This allows the doctor to make sure that there are no interactions between different medicines.
response to treatment
Your doctor will monitor your viral load and CD4 T cell count to determine your response to HIV treatment. You’ll initially be examined at two to four weeks, and then every three to six months.
Treatment should reduce the viral load so that it cannot be detected in the blood. This does not mean that HIV has been cured. Even if it is not found in the blood, HIV is still present in other places in the body, such as the lymph nodes and internal organs.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
It is important to take an active role in maintaining your health, in addition to receiving medical care. The following tips will help you stay healthy for longer:
Eat healthy foods. Make sure your body is getting enough nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein help keep you strong, give you more energy and boost your immune system.
Avoid eating raw meat, raw eggs, etc. Foodborne illnesses can be severe, especially when they infect people with HIV. Meat should be cooked until fully cooked. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs, and raw seafood such as oysters, sushi, or sashimi.
Get the right vaccinations. They can prevent you from getting a classic infection like pneumonia or the flu. Your doctor may recommend other vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. In general, inactive vaccines are safe, but those that carry active viruses are not safe because your immune system is weak.
Be careful with the animals you handle. Some animals carry parasites that can infect humans with HIV. Cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis, reptiles transmit salmonella, and birds transmit cryptococcosis or histoplasmosis. Wash your hands well after handling pets or disposing of the litter box.
People with HIV infection sometimes try nutritional supplements that boost the immune system or counteract the side effects of anti-HIV medications. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that using any dietary supplement improves immunity, and there are many that may interfere with other medications you are taking. So, always check with your doctor before taking any supplements or alternative treatments to ensure there are no drug interactions.
And there are supplements that may also help
Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Researchers use acetyl-L-carnitine to treat nerve pain, numbness or weakness (neuropathy) in people with diabetes. It can relieve HIV-related neuropathy if there is a disability.
Whey protein and specific amino acids. There has been some evidence that whey protein, a by-product of cheese, can help people with HIV gain weight. Whey protein is clearly able to relieve diarrhea and increase the number of CD4 T cells. Amino acids such as L-glutamine, L-arginine, and hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB) can help the body gain weight.
Probiotics. There is some evidence that the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii can relieve diarrhea associated with HIV, but it should only be used under a doctor’s supervision. Bovine colostrum is currently being studied as a treatment for diarrhea.
vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, D, E, C and B — as well as the minerals zinc, iron and selenium — can be good for you if you eat low amounts of them.
St. John’s wort. It is a common treatment for depression, and St. John’s wort can reduce the effectiveness of several types of anti-HIV medications by less than half.
Garlic supplements. Although garlic itself may help strengthen the immune system, garlic supplements may interact with some anti-HIV drugs and reduce their effectiveness. But it is safe to eat garlic from time to time.
Red yeast rice extract. Some people use it to lower cholesterol, but avoid it if you’re taking protease inhibitors or statins.
Exercising such as yoga, meditation and tai chi reduces stress, in addition to improving blood pressure and quality of life. While these practices need a lot of study, they may help you if you are living with HIV/AIDS.
Adaptation and support
Knowing the diagnosis of any life-threatening illness can be devastating. The emotional, social and financial consequences of HIV/AIDS can make it especially difficult — not just for you but for your contacts as well.
But today, many services and resources are available to serve people with HIV. Most HIV/AIDS clinics have social workers or nurses who can help you with direct guidance or put you in contact with people who can.
Services that may be provided include:
Arranging travel to and from medical appointments
Help with household chores and child care
Assistance in solving legal and employment problems
Providing support during emergency financial crises
It is important to have a support system in place. Many people with HIV/AIDS find that talking to someone who understands their illness is comforting.
Prepare for your appointment
If you think you have HIV infection, you’ll likely start by seeing your family doctor. You may be referred to an infectious disease specialist – who also specializes in treating HIV/AIDS.
What you can do
Before your appointment, consider answering these questions and present them to your doctor during the visit:
How do you think you were exposed to HIV?
What symptoms do you feel?
Do you have risk factors, such as participating in an unprotected sexual relationship or taking intravenous medications?
What prescription medications or nutritional supplements do you take regularly?
What do you expect from your doctor
The doctor will ask you about your health and lifestyle. Your doctor will do a complete physical exam to check for:
swollen lymph nodes
Lesions on the skin or inside your mouth
Nervous system problems
Abnormal sounds in your lungs
Swollen organs in your abdomen.
What can you do in the meantime
If you think you have HIV, take steps to protect yourself and others before your appointment with your doctor. Don’t have unsafe sex. If you use injectable medications, make sure you always use a new, clean needle. Do not share needles with others.