There are a number of tests that are used to find out whether a person is infected with HIV including the CD4 test and the viral load test. Deciding when to start antiretroviral treatment or the CD4 Test for HIV can be difficult as there is no proven ‘right’ time.The ARV treatment or the viral load test should stop a person from becoming ill for many years. For many, the therapy works without any major problems. However, there sometimes can be difficulties related to drug resistance, drug interactions, side effects and adherence. There are different views regarding the benefits of starting treatment earlier or later, though most recommend not starting until the advanced stages of HIV infection. It is a very important decision with long-term consequences.
The HIV Antibody test is the most appropriate for routine diagnosis of HIV among adults. Antibody tests are cheap and very accurate. The ELISA antibody test (enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent) or EIA (enzyme immunoassay) was the first test to be widely used. When a person is infected, their body responds by producing special proteins that fight infection which are called antibodies. An antibody test looks for these antibodies in blood, saliva or urine. If antibodies to HIV are detected, the person has been infected with HIV. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies 6-12 weeks of infection. In rare cases, it takes about 6 months, though it is unlikely that someone would take longer than 6 months to develop antibodies.
For those who have never had unprotected sex, shared drug injecting equipment, or been exposed to HIV during a medical procedure or at work, then there is very little likelihood of you having HIV, and no real reason to take an HIV test. Otherwise, if you think you have been infected or there is a possibility that you have been exposed to HIV, then a test is always the best option.
However, even if you think you may not have HIV, the only way you could really tell is for you to take an HIV test (HIV antibody test). You won’t be able to tell if someone has HIV or AIDS just by looking at them, and it cannot be diagnosed through symptoms. The symptoms of HIV and AIDS are not specific, and may indicate other illnesses, which is why an HIV test is the only way to receive a definite diagnosis.
When testing for HIV, it is recommended for it to be carried out in a healthcare setting. However, some countries provide home sampling and home testing kits. Home sampling kits lets a person take a sample (usually blood sample) and send it to a laboratory for testing. They can call for the results a few days later. If positive, a professional counsellor will provide emotional support and referrals. Though fast and simple, these tests are far from accurate since it will only rely on a blood sample and no further interviews or queries can be done. That is why for best measure, it is still advantageous to go to a STD clinic and seek consult. There you will be given a set of laboratory tests as well as a full work-up and history regarding your condition.