The rapid increase in the number of HIV-infected people around the world is alarming, and the medical industry is working hard to fight off the virus that has been killing thousands. Scientists are working together to find a cure for the virus, but after decades of research, they are unable to find the answer that will stop the virus from spreading. Today, what the scientists can do is to constantly advice the people about the dangers of the virus and how they can avoid it.
One of the most recent plans that have been introduced by scientists who have been working closely about the nature of HIV is the rapid HIV test. This will provide workers in the medical field to immediately assess a person if they are infected or not. Because of the speed associated with the test, many people are also looking forward to getting tested. They wanted to find out if they also carry the virus, which will help them warn others about their condition.
Rapid HIV Test: What is it?
Getting early treatment for HIV is much better compared to waiting in vain. Many studies have pointed out that people who are suspected of acquiring the virus should be checked immediately. This will give them a higher chance to survive by taking the right medications that will support their immune system. Those who have acquired the virus and waited for a longer period gave the virus a chance to spread and kill the healthy cells inside the body that fights off diseases and infections. When someone decides to be tested immediately, the chances of spreading the virus become smaller. Many of those who have tested positive for the virus started to change their behavior – which is crucial especially if they do not want the virus to spread further. The recommendation from the Center for Disease Control is that everyone who is 13 years old up to 64 years old should be tested regularly for HIV-risk. This would give the government a clear picture of what the real statistics are.
On the other hand, people who have a higher risk of acquiring the virus should undergo a rapid HIV test at least once a year. The Center for Disease Control defines those who face a higher risk of acquiring HIV are those who have been using a syringe to inject drugs inside their body and sharing it with their friends. People who love to have unprotected sex also have a higher risk of acquiring HIV – especially those who are practicing male-to-male sex, or those who have multiple partners – regardless of gender. Those who love to participate in one night stands and those who are trading sex for money or drugs are also at risk. Another group of people who can be infected with the virus is those who have been diagnosed with tuberculosis, hepatitis, or any sexually-transmitted infections.
The two types of HIV testing
Two types of HIV testing are now available to the public. The first one is referred to as the conventional HIV test. Under this test, the person should send their blood or oral fluid to a laboratory to be examined. The results from a conventional HIV testing center can be returned a few days – and sometimes, weeks. The reason why the result for a conventional HIV testing arrives after a few days or weeks is because of the detailed examination of the sample performed by the top scientists working in a laboratory. For those who wanted to undergo HIV testing and have a limited time in their hands, they can use the rapid HIV testing strategy to find out more information about the patient.
Rapid HIV testing has already proven its effectivity, with more people from the local American household now requesting for many companies to support the rapid HIV testing program because it will help them reach more people and will give the virus a difficult time frame to replicate and spread all over the body. Those who will be requested a rapid HIV testing procedure should expect the results to come out after fifteen to twenty minutes. People can even wait for their results to come out, even though there might be some serious concerns especially to those who are unsure if they will stay positive or not.
History of Rapid HIV Testing
The breakthrough for rapid HIV testing came in October 2004 when OraSure Technologies, Inc. introduced a new method for testing people who are suspected to be infected. After the United States FDA approved its product, the company started testing the subjects who might be HIV positive. Within twenty minutes, the results came in, and the company only used a small sample of blood from the patients. Today, rapid HIV testing has become a mainstay for HIV screenings. Many people around the world who wanted to get tested are trying to get their hands on rapid HIV testing method. What encourages more people to try it out is the faster calculation of the result if someone is infected or not. Many hospitals around the world are also using the rapid HIV testing method to give a detailed report about the status of a patient.
Rapid HIV Testing: What are the Advantages?
The advantages of a rapid HIV testing method is that more people can be tested in a single day. In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV, but 12.5% are not aware that they have acquired the virus. Every year, 44,000 more are becoming infected with the virus. With the rapid HIV testing method now available, more people can be checked regularly if they are positive. The cases of HIV infection in the United States fell because of the number of people who wanted to get tested. Despite the increasing number of people who are willing to undergo HIV testing, there was a time when people would agree to get tested at first, and then fail to get their results which could be available after a week or so. The most prevalent reasons why the results are being ignored is because those who were tested feel afraid that they might have a positive result. Others are also saying that they do not have access to transportation, or they are relocating to a different city. This scenario happens mostly with conventional HIV testing.
With the rapid HIV testing now available to the public, the result can be seen after a few minutes. Those who have shown a positive result must require additional tests to determine if the result is accurate or not. It can be stressful once the waiting game begins, and those who are diagnosed with HIV would feel as if their world has collapsed and no hope is left. Another advantage of the rapid HIV testing method is the people who know beforehand that they are infected can receive medications immediately. This would minimize the chances for them to develop AIDS, which is more deadly. The good thing about rapid HIV testing is that it does not require any specialized equipment. The blood sample and oral fluid are enough to initiate the test.
The Accuracy of the Rapid HIV Test
The rapid HIV testing method is highly accurate, and in a matter of twenty minutes, an individual can receive the results. The method is capable of detecting HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies. If a single line appeared on the strip used for the test, the person that was tested does not have HIV. This is 99.8% accurate. However, when the strip shows two lines, the person tested is possibly infected with HIV, and the result has 99.3% accuracy.
Rapid HIV testing revolutionized the medical industry, and today, many health workers are relying on the rapid HIV testing kits to assist those who are suspected of having HIV infection. The kit is easy to set up, and it can be brought to far-flung areas that are very difficult to reach. In the United States, the rapid HIV testing kits are being taken to medical missions overseas where HIV infection is prevalent, especially in Africa. The kits helped a lot of people who are not sure if they are positive or not. The highly accurate results presented by the kit are also helping the people poor communities around the world that have seen a rapid increase in the number of infected. If the accurate kits will be used to test the population, those who are infected can be detected, and they should be given a lecture about the virus and what they should do to stop it from spreading.
The creation of a rapid HIV testing kit also influenced others to get tested, with celebrities encouraging the public to have their blood checked. Despite the encouragement from celebrities and other influential people, there are still individuals who are scared of taking the test because they do not know what to feel if they found out that they are positive. Being HIV positive has a lot of disadvantages, and there is a social stigma attributed to those who are living with the disease. However, people with HIV should do their best to live normally, and ignore those who are trying to bash them because of their condition.
Rapid HIV Test: Is it Expensive?
A single rapid HIV testing kit costs $8 in hospitals. If you want to get tested with the help of an organization, the payment can vary from $8 to $60. If you do not have the money, you can also visit organizations that provide free testing. You can submit the samples that they require and the results can be presented immediately. Having a rapid HIV test is not expensive, and all you need to do is to search for a place where you can get it. You can also seek assistance from the health workers who can help you out.
HIV: Social Stigma
Having checked for HIV carries a lot of stigmas, especially in countries where the idea about sex is not included in daily communication. For people who live in these countries, it is a taboo topic that should not be brought up. The taboo associated with sex and its related topics would make it difficult to persuade the public to get tested. There will be people who would refuse because of the fear that their community will judge them. However, this should not happen in the 21st century, and people should have an open mind. Those who have the guts to get tested and ended up being HIV-positive are facing a lot of social stigmas.
One of the misconceptions about HIV is that it can be shared through kissing or touching an infected person. HIV can only be transmitted through blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, and saliva is not included. HIV cannot be transmitted through touch, and it is perfectly fine to hold the hands of people who are infected with the virus. They might have the wrong decisions in the past, but we should accept these people and show them empathy. It is not easy to live with HIV. People who are infected with the disease are left by their families and friends because of the fear that the disease might spread. They are also facing ridicule and discrimination from the people around them, and no matter how hard they wanted to take their lives back, they simply can’t because of the stigma associated with the disease. What the world needs now is to conduct a series of seminars and public talks to explain to the masses what HIV is. People should avoid discriminating those who are HIV-positive, and instead, they should help them carry on with their lives.
What the HIV-infected people need are individuals who can understand their situation and who can sit with them to listen to their life’s greatest struggles. The people who are living with HIV are brave because they faced the results from the test with courage. They are living in a real-life battlefield, and they are doing everything that they can to survive.