Getting a home HIV test done is usually a nerve-racking experience and it’s common for most people to freeze just at the sheer thought of the experience. What if I am positive? Do I need to get a test done if I feel healthy? These are some of the questions that may race through your mind in such scenarios which led you to believe that you’re better off not knowing. The truth of the matter, though, is that the sooner you know your HIV status, the better. Testing for HIV remains an issue because many people fear stigmatization and discrimination. Over 60% of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals remain untested. In the US alone, 20% of the people living with undiagnosed HIV are responsible for nearly 50% of the new HIV transmissions. Testing yourself at home can yield faster results allowing you to cope with your diagnosis on your own terms.
Should You Test For HIV
Unlike herpes testing, testing for HIV isn’t so controversial. It’s generally looked at as a good thing to get tested for HIV. I agree. It’s smart to know your status so you can get treatment as early as possible, and prevent the spreading of the virus.
Early Diagnosis Enables More Effective Treatment
It is not an understatement to say that how long you wait before getting tested can mean the difference between life and death. The disease primarily targets your immune system so if you are infected and aren’t on a treatment plan, your white cell count keeps dwindling by the day leaving the door ajar for many opportunistic diseases that could prove fatal. With early testing though, you can help tilt the battle in your body’s favor and keep the virus at bay. In a nutshell, the earlier it is detected, the better your chances are of living a full healthy life (1).
Protect Your Loved Ones
The worst thing about not knowing your status is that you could be passing on the disease to your loved ones without realizing it. The virus is transmitted mainly through blood but also through the exchange of other bodily fluids. So if you are in a sexual relationship with someone, such information could enable the both of you to learn the best means of practicing safe sex (2).
HIV Pregnancy Risk
There’s nothing more fulfilling in this world than caring for another human being, especially one you brought into this world. If you’re planning on having a baby soon or are already pregnant, now is the perfect time to know your status. Doctors can take extra precautions to try and prevent your child from getting HIV (3).
Why I Prefer To Use A Home HIV Test
Walking through the door of a clinic can seem like the hardest task in this world, almost akin to doing a long hike up Mt. Everest on the darkest of nights. But it is a task that needs to be done. HIV testing at home can also be similarly frightening but there are some benefits to conducting a test within the confines of your home. These include:
Even just walking through the doors of a testing center can generate talk from those who remotely know you; something you’ll never need to worry about when you do your HIV testing at home. The four walls of your aboard provide the secrecy and anonymity you need.
2) More Practical
An HIV test is something you ought to carry frequently if you live a lifestyle that may put you at higher risk of contracting HIV. Making an appointment every time you need to know your status can be annoying and inconvenient. By ordering your test kits online, you can conduct tests at will.
3) Ease of Use
The makers of HIV home testing kits ensure that the operation is as simple as can be so that anyone can use it.
How to Take an HIV Blood Test
- Disinfection; the first step is to disinfect the area to be pierced which is usually the middle finger. Your kit should have an alcohol prep for this or some other kind of disinfectant.
- Using the Lancet; now take out your lancet, which looks like the head of a felt pen, and take out the knob by gently pushing it in then twisting.
- Now press the lancet against the tip of your finger then prick your finger by pressing the trigger.
- Using the micropipette, collect about one drop of blood then place it on to the sample well.
- Take out your Diluent bottle then add about 3 drops of slowly into the bland sample.
- All that’s left now is to wait for the results which should take about ten minutes. The result checking mechanism works just like a pregnancy test: a single line for negative and a pair of red strips for positive. If no line at all is obtained, then the kit you used could be faulty.
These are just example instructions. You should follow the instructions on your kit to the T. There a plethora of testing methods for HIV, however, the general procedure for using an HIV testing kit is what I outlined. Most of the test are blood test but I have even seen some oral swab tests.
What the Typical HIV Treatment Entails
Testing positive for HIV isn’t the end of the world, but rather the beginning of a more careful life journey. Though a cure is yet to be found, there are a number of treatment options available to the infected. Which one is suitable to your particular condition is dependent on existing health issues, stage of detection and your willingness to begin therapy. Below I’ve listed several of the most common treatment options (4).
1) Standard medication
The purpose of AIDS medication is to help your white blood cells stay in the fight with the immunodeficiency syndrome and keep at arm’s length those diseases that wait for a lapse of defenses to strike. By ensuring the virus spread doesn’t spiral out of control, it allows the immune system to ensure it doesn’t bite off more than it can chew when battling the virus which specifically targets the white blood cells, which are essentially our first and last line of defense against all diseases.
Normally, the medication encompasses combining a trio or more of the drugs and this process is what is known as ART i.e. antiretroviral therapy. Every drug works differently for each person so you might need to undergo a drug-resistance test to determine which ones will work for you and which ones won’t.
2) Fusion Inhibitors
These are also just a group of drugs but they work to prevent the growth of the virus by ensuring it can’t multiply. They combine with the cell of the disease, like a lock and key technique, ensuring the viral load remains constant. Fusion inhibitors include fuzeon or enfuvirtide (5).
3) HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy)
These are a class of drugs that take ART to a whole new level. They strongly inhibit the spread of the virus so much so that the viral load is at times undetectable from the bloodstream.
4) NNRTI inhibitors
Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase ensures that HIV doesn’t get to the cells that remain affected. These drugs can be used in combination with any of the above groups of medication.
Remember, the key to winning the HIV battle is to start early if you are infected.