Most insurance policies will cover the testing and treatment or you can go to sites that offer free tests. You may be eligible for free testing and treatment through government programs through Medicaid, Medicare and community health centers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention established a National HIV Testing Day to promote testing all around the country. FreeSTDcheck.org is an organization affiliated to the Aids Healthcare Foundation that established centers for free testing and mobile centers in vans for reaching all neighborhoods.
All pregnant women should be tested for HIV as part of the general care given to women in this condition. If a woman is found positive early is her pregnancy the treatment can also begin in the early stages lowering dramatically the risk of transmitting the disease to her baby. The early HIV treatment in pregnant women has proven to be most effective in stopping the number of babies infected with HIV from their mothers. Even if the presence of HIV is detected relatively late in the pregnancy is always beneficial to begin treatment immediately.
You should get tested for HIV as soon as you suspect you could have been infected by having sex with another man, if you had sex with a HIV-positive partner, if you had more than one sex partner, if you have shared needles for injecting drugs, if you had sex for drugs or money, if you have been diagnosed for another sexually transmitted disease, if you have been diagnosed for hepatitis or tuberculosis, if you had sex with someone whose sexual history is unknown. You should be tested at least once a year as part of a general health care routine if you don´t keep a regular sex partners.
It all depends of the kind of test taken. The rapid antibody screening test, using a drop of blood from a finger prick or oral fluid, will give results in about 30 minutes. These are the kind of test that would normally be performed as standard test in clinics and at home. If the test is performed by a laboratory it could take several days for the result to be available. The oral fluid antibody test is fast. Using a swab from your mouth to collect oral fluid, not saliva, you would get a result in about 20 minutes.
The presence of HIV can be detected by measuring the concentration of HIV, the virus itself, in the blood, or by measuring the presence of antibodies. In the case of urine or oral mucous the concentration of the virus is extremely low. That´s why they are low risk fluids, meaning it is not likely you get infected by kissing or getting in contact with urine from an infected person. However, the urine always shows the presence of antibodies to HIV allowing doctors to ascertain if the person is infected or not.
All the basic tests to detect the presence of HIV work through analysis of blood samples. The HIV is transmitted and spread through interchange of blood and other body fluids like semen. The virus attacks a white blood cell called the T-helper cell that helps fight diseases and infections. The virus gets inside the host cell, reproduces itself there and releases new copies of it, destroying the host cell in the process. This destruction of white cells is what causes the immune system to weaken and eventually to collapse allowing the rise of diseases like AIDS.
4th generation HIV antibody and antigen test is the standard test recommended by most of the health care centers. It detects antibodies created by your body when it fights the disease and also the specific antigens found in the virus itself. These antigens are foreign molecules whose presence in the blood induces the immune system to respond and try to get rid of them, so as a result of this toxin invasion of the virus antibodies are produced.
HIV early detection test is the recommended test if you think you may have been exposed recently to HIV virus. This test will look for the presence of genetic material in your blood. HIV virus has a specific genetic makeup and the test is designed to identified it and measure its concentration. This is specially adequate if you are looking for a fast result and has the advantage that allows you to be tested as fast as 9 to 11 days after being exposed. The drawback is that they are expensive and not available in all the clinics and medical centers.
HIV infected parents can have HIV negative babies if they are tested and begin treatment as soon as they can. An HIV infected mother can pass the virus to her child during pregnancy, at the time of birth or when breast feeding, but medical treatment will minimize the chances of this occurring. Ideally positive HIV women should start therapy before pregnancy and continue during this period to reduce the concentration of the virus in her blood.
It is very important to know the person you are going to spend a big deal of time with in the future. The formation of a healthy couple is the first step in a future healthy family life. All the people doing a commitment to share a life together should perform at least the basic tests for sexually transmitted diseases: syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, Chlamydia, HIV, especially if you had a history of having many physical relationships before marriage or if your partner has had sexual contact with several persons before.