The body’s immune system is the main target of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV and, if not timely diagnosed and treated is life-threatening.
The cells in the individual’s immune system are gradually attacked by HIV which gives him/her low resistance to infections. A person is termed as ‘HIV positive’ as soon as he or she is diagnosed with HIV. Continuous and lifetime treatment is needed for a person found to have HIV which can be fatal if left untreated.
AIDS will be the diagnosis when HIV has weakened an individual’s immune system. This is because the CD4 count or white blood cells of the individual goes to levels below 200. When this happens, it is mandatory that the individual acquire antiretroviral therapy as by this time a severe damage has happened to the immune system.
A treatment can only be started when a person is sure that he or she has HIV. HIV could not be diagnosed right off as its signs and symptoms are similar to other infections that even a doctor cannot detect it. A person may show signs and symptoms of flu and may not even know that he or she already has HIV. This makes it doubly hard to pinpoint HIV when a person becomes sick. On the brighter side, tested HIV does not mean that your life is over. When treatment is followed there is a good chance that it will not become full-blown AIDS.
There are ways to check for HIV and one of them is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, better known as ELISA where samples of urine, saliva, and blood are taken from the patient. The effective times the test could be done to a patient are between 2 to 12 weeks after he or she has become infected. The way it can be determined that the person is HIV positive is the different kind of antibodies that they produce which could not be found in antibodies of people who do not have HIV.
Another test that could be done is called the Rapid HIV test which is done by a finger prick and where the blood sample taken could be given an antibody count. After a period between 20 to 30 minutes, results could be given and the clinic is the usual setting for this kind of test. Yet, Rapid HIV test should be backed by the Western Blot to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common tests done to a suspected HIV individual is the Western Blot. This type of test is a secondary confirmation and uses electrophoresis in laboratory setting.
It can’t be emphasized enough that body fluids are the gateway of the HIV virus. An HIV- infected person can immediately infect another individual through unprotected sex, sharing of needles, breast milk, and a blood transfusion from an infected blood.
If you suspect yourself or a loved one to have contracted HIV, the only way to find out is to have body fluids testing. This could spell the difference between life and death.