February 24, 2024

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Turning Over A New Leaf – The Importance of HIV Testing

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. We’ll come to a point in our lives when safe sex becomes a priority and we adapt those behaviors. They are great behaviors and anyone who comes to the conclusion that engaging in safe sex-as opposed to rolling the dice every time one has sex-should be commended. But for most of these people there was a sex life before the epiphany of safe sex behavior- and this is where HIV testing should come into play.

We’ve engaged in testing our entire lives. In fact, these days babies engage in testing to get into a good preschool! We have had tests in school, for jobs and for fun. STD testing should be high on the list, but unfortunately sometimes it’s easier to turn a blind eye to our past behavior and start fresh at some arbitrary time. For anyone who engages in sexual behavior, testing for HIV and other STDs should be a priority.

Yes, it is sometimes difficult to face past behavior. Sometimes we think of things that we have done in the past and are faces scrunch. This is called growing up and becoming responsible (it may also be called sobriety, but that’s a whole other article!) For those of us who have turned a page in our lives for the better, congratulations, but have testing performed to make sure you’re healthy.

It may be a bummer to face a positive diagnosis, but because of the treatment available these days, HIV testing is the best possible route to take. Only after one realizes they are positive can they apply real, medical treatment to their new-found positive behavior. It’s part of the responsibility that you have undertaken. A positive diagnosis for HIV does not mean a death sentence. It means it is time to get the care and medicine you need to remain as healthy as you currently feel.

And what if the testing administered shows that you are negative? Just think about the stress that will be relieved from your shoulders. Just think about that little voice in the back of your head that visits you at night as you attempt to fall asleep that whispers to your battered brain: What if… What if…?

Testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is quick and easy. Some clinics can have your results back in an hour, although the average wait is a few days as your blood sample goes out to a professional lab for the test(s) to be run. As stated earlier in the article, people infected are not struck down in the prime of their life any more.

Testing

The mode of testing for the HIV virus is a blood test called the HIV Antibody Test. This HIV testing searches for antibodies made by the immune system in response to an HIV infection and is 99.5{1bba59ef0f837d981c3bbc138a719a91ccf1421d7c126b09b2d5ffa1685c30db} accurate.

In the case of a positive test, a follow up test is performed using the same blood sample. It is called the “Reflex to Western Blot Confirmation” (also known as an EIA test).

Treatment

The first drug to hit the market for HIV infection was AZT. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration way back in 1987. There was finally help available for those suffering from HIV and AIDS. The drug worked on your T cell count. These are the cells that help your body fight all forms of infection. A T cell count is the measure of the strength of your immune system.

AZT was only the first of a series of drugs that would be prescribed after the testing procedure would come back positive. Although AZT and similar drugs helped prolong life, the quality of life was typically poor. Today there are new drugs on the market called protease inhibitors. The statistics on prolonged life and quality of life are significantly higher with these drugs.