Millions of people worldwide are getting tested every single day for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus in their bodies. As the campaign for AIDS awareness is getting ever stronger even in far flung regions in the country, more and more people are flocking to centers to check if they are infected or not. This is a positive response in the fight to control the disease.
However, not many know the finer details of the tests done. And even less know that it takes awhile for confirmed results to show in the body. This is why governing bodies in the medical field also push for further campaigns on the program to fight AIDS that will not only encourage people to get tested but also for them to have a sense of sexual maturity and responsibility not only for their bodies but for their partners as well.
There are generally two types of tests that are available. The first one tests for HIV antibodies in the body. The second test looks for antigens produced by the virus in the body. The second test is quicker and results can be seen immediately within days after infection.
The first test looks for antibodies produced by the human host against the virus. This usually takes a few days to weeks after infection for the first signs of the antibodies to show. This can prove to be fatal as they unsuspecting carrier could potentially spread the virus each time he has unprotected sex. The test itself is not 100% accurate and some rare cases have been known to produce antibodies after 6 months of becoming infected.
The second test, a newer version, looks for antigens produced by the virus itself. An antigen is a protein given off by the virus once it has infected a person. This happens almost immediately after infection and can be a great help in making sure that the patient is made aware of his status. The risk to further spread the infection is kept to a minimum. The biggest factor is that this test is highly sensitive and accurate at the same time.
It is sad to say though that once a patient is confirmed to have HIV, he will be subjected to more tests to make sure he is getting the correct route of treatment. Further tests can be range from CD4 counts down to other immunoassays or serological testing for hepatitis, toxoplasmosis, STI’s or sexually transmitted infections or tuberculosis.
CD4 counts are broad parameters which gauge how far the HIV has taken over the host’s immune system. The CD4 helper t-lymphocytes are cells targeted by the virus. A low count (below 200) could mean that a person’s HIV infection has worsened into or turned into full blown AIDS. This result could influence the course of treatment that is given to a patient to help him fight the disease.
It is important to note that though HIV targets only the CD4 cells in the system, a low result does not necessarily mean that he has progressed into AIDS. There are many causes for CD4 cells to decrease in the body. A simple bacterial or any other viral infection can make the body drop CD4 counts rapidly.