Call us: 1.877.283.7882 | Monday–Friday: 8:00 AM–4:30 PM ET

HIV Infection and AIDS

Private MD Lab Services offers a single test to help diagnose HIV: HIV-1 Antibodies Test.

HIV-1 Antibodies Test $47.49

If your exposure has been greater than 28 days but less than six months, we reccomend the following test:

Private MD STD Recent Exposure Panel $346.99
Learn more about STD testing for recent exposure  


What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV is the abbreviation used for the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a life-threatening disease.

HIV attacks the body's immune system. The infection-fighting cells of the immune system are called CD4 cells or T-helper cells. Months to years after a person is infected with HIV, the virus destroys the CD4 cells. When the CD4 cells are destroyed, the immune system can no longer defend the body against infections and cancers.

HIV infection becomes AIDS when you lose your ability to fight off serious infections or tumors. Various infections called opportunistic infections develop. They are called opportunistic because they take advantage of the weakened immune system. These infections would not normally cause severe or fatal health problems. However, when you have AIDS, the infections and tumors are serious and can be fatal.

How does it occur?

HIV is not spread through the air, in food, or by casual social contact such as shaking hands or hugging. The virus is passed on only when the blood or sexual secretions enter another person's body. It can also be spread to babies by the breast milk of an infected mother. Spread of the virus can occur during such activities as:

  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Sharing IV needles
  • Being born to or breast-fed by an HIV-infected mother
  • Blood transfusions (now rare in the US because of current screening tests).

The following groups have the highest risk for HIV infection and the development of AIDS:

  • Sexually active homosexual men
  • Bisexual men and their partners
  • IV drug users and their sexual partners
  • People who share needles (for IV drug use, tattooing, or piercing)
  • Heterosexual men and women with more than one sexual partner
  • People given transfusions of blood or blood products in countries where the blood is not rigorously tested
  • Iimmigrants from areas with many cases of AIDS (such as Haiti and east central Africa)
  • People who have sex with an HIV-infected partner or with anyone in the above groups if they do not always use a latex or polyurethane condom
  • Babies born to HIV-infected mothers.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of HIV infection and AIDS are usually the symptoms of the diseases that attack the body because of a weakened immune system:

  • Fever that lasts from a few days to longer than a month
  • Loss of appetite or weight, especially loss of more than 10% of body weight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Long-lasting or multiple viral skin problems, such as herpes sores or plantar warts
  • Repeated, severe yeast infections in your mouth or vagina despite treatment
  • Chronic muscle and joint pain
  • Diarrhea, especially if it lasts longer than a month
  • Headache
  • Enlarged spleen and liver.

The serious opportunistic diseases that most often affect someone with AIDS include a type of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma and these infections: Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), tuberculosis, meningitis, and herpes simplex infections.

How is it diagnosed?

This test is done to see if you are infected with HIV. If this test is positive, another more specific blood test is done to confirm the results.

Once you have confirmed positive HIV test results, you must have a thorough medical exam. Your health care provider will ask about your medical history and symptoms and will examine you.

The medical history and physical exam includes discussing your history of sexual practices and sexually transmitted diseases. Your health care provider will also ask about any history of drug abuse.

You will have some lab tests. Comparing the results of the physical exam and these first lab tests with results weeks or months from now can help your health care provider diagnose new symptoms you may have in the future. It can also help your provider know how well your medicines are working.

You will be tested for certain infections, such as tuberculosis (TB), syphilis, and hepatitis B. These infections can worsen rapidly when you have HIV. They also pose a serious risk to others.

HIV-positive women should have a Pap test according to the schedule recommended by their health care provider (usually every 6 to 12 months).

Private MD Lab Services offers a single test to help diagnose HIV: HIV-1 Antibodies Test.

How is it treated?

Your treatment depends on if it is known when you became infected with HIV and whether you have symptoms. Your treatment may include:

  • Antiviral medicines, such as zidovudine (also called ZDV or AZT), didanosine (ddI), and lamivudine (3TC), and protease inhibitors
  • Lab tests every few weeks to see how well your immune system is working, to measure the amount of HIV in your blood, and to screen for infections or other medical problems
  • Rregular dental exams because people who are HIV positive often have mouth problems, including gum disease
  • Preventive treatment for such diseases as:
    • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
    • tuberculosis
    • toxoplasmosis (be sure to avoid raw meat and cat litter boxes)
    • tetanus
    • hepatitis B
    • pneumococcal infections
    • influenza
  • Treatment for infections and tumors as they develop.

Your health care provider will probably recommend starting treatment with antiviral drugs and antipneumonia drugs if you are having symptoms of HIV infection. Even if you are not having symptoms, your provider may recommend starting treatment if:

  • Your CD4 cell count is below 350 cells per cubic millimeter

The CD4 cell count is a good way to know how well the immune system is working. (CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell.) You should have this lab test every 4 to 6 months. When the count begins to decrease, you will need to have the test more often. The viral load test measures the amount of HIV in your blood.

Antiviral medicines can slow the progress of the disease, but they are not a cure. Many new drug treatments and combinations are being prescribed or studied.

Vision problems are often an early sign of opportunistic infection in HIV-positive individuals. Tell your health care provider promptly about any eye symptoms, especially if you keep having blurry vision or a loss of vision.

Getting care in an office or clinic that uses the case management concept of care is perhaps the most important aspect of your treatment. This approach emphasizes team care coordinated by a case manager. The case manager helps you communicate with all who are caring for you. Other advantages include:

  • Up-to-date medical care will be available to you.
  • Treatment of the medical and social aspects of your illness will be brought together.
  • You will have help in finding resources (medical, social, financial).

How long do the effects last?

The full effects of AIDS may not appear until 5 to 10 years after you are first infected with HIV. Although AIDS is a fatal disease, life expectancy has increased as new treatments are developed.

How can I take care of myself?

If you are in a high-risk group but have not tested positively for HIV, see your health care provider regularly. He or she will examine you for signs of HIV-associated infections and will recommend how often your blood should be tested for HIV infection.

If you are HIV positive:

  • Discuss your treatment with your health care provider.
  • See your provider on a regular schedule to keep up to date on new treatments.
  • Contact a local AIDS support network. Your provider should be able to help you find one.

Call or see your health care provider if:

  • You have new or persistent symptoms.
  • You notice a change in body function that concerns you.
  • You are having side effects from your medicine.

How can I help prevent HIV infection?

To prevent becoming infected, ask any new sexual partner about his or her sexual history. Be careful to practice safe sex, use latex or polyurethane condoms, and seek HIV testing. Do not share IV needles.

If you are HIV positive, you can help prevent spreading the virus if you:

  • Practice safe sex: Do not share sexual secretions or blood in any way. Carefully use latex or polyurethane condoms for every oral, vaginal, or anal sexual activity.
  • Ask sexual partners to be tested for HIV.
  • Tell your health care providers that you are HIV positive. (Discuss any concerns you may have about confidentiality with your health care provider.)

In addition:

  • Do not share needles for drug use, tattooing, or body piercing.
  • Do not donate blood, plasma, or semen.
  • Do not plan to donate organs, such as corneas. (If you were previously planning to donate organs, have that statement removed from your driver's license.)

To avoid passing HIV to a baby, women should talk to their health care providers before becoming pregnant.

Antiretroviral drugs may be used to prevent HIV infection if you have been exposed to HIV through sexual intercourse, sexual assault, injection drug use, or an accident. The treatment must be started no more than 72 hours after a high-risk exposure to someone known to be HIV-infected. The treatment lasts 28 days. This preventive treatment is not recommended for people who are often at risk of exposure to HIV, like those who have HIV-infected sex partners and rarely use condoms, or injection drug users who often share equipment.

How can I keep up to date on treatments for HIV infection?

Researchers are learning more about HIV. As a result, recommended treatments change often. Keeping up with these changes can be difficult and frustrating. Two ways you can seek up-to-date information and care are:

  • Obtain health care from a case management model facility and follow the recommended appointment schedule.
  • Contact the AIDS Hotline with specific questions or to find other resources.

The National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-AIDS (1-800-342-2437), 24 hours, 7 days a week

TDD: 1-800-243-7889 (10 a.m. to 10 p.m., EST, Monday through Friday

Spanish National AIDS hotline: 1-800-344-7432, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., EST, 7 days a week

These hotlines are provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2005 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

HIV-1 Antibody Test

Private MD Lab Services offers this test to help diagnose HIV: HIV-1 Antibodies Test.

What is the HIV-1 antibody test?

The HIV-1 antibody test checks your blood for antibodies to the most common type of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), a life-threatening disease. If you are infected with HIV, your immune system makes a type of protein called an antibody to try to destroy or get rid of the virus.

There is no way to know, without testing, if you are infected with HIV. Learning whether you are HIV positive will help you care for yourself and protect your loved ones.

Why is this test done?

This test is done to see if you are infected with the virus that causes AIDS. This test is also used to screen donated blood for HIV.

How do I prepare for this test?

It is important to get counseling before you have the HIV test. This can help to identify things you do that may increase your risk for HIV infection.

How is the test done?

Usually a small amount of blood is taken from your finger or your arm. Blood from a finger prick is put in a vial of solution and tested with a dipstick. Blood taken from your arm with a needle will be sent to a lab for testing. In some hospitals and clinics a new, faster test is now available. A sample for testing is obtained by swabbing your gums with a cotton swab rather than drawing blood.

Having the test takes just a few minutes of your time. There is no risk of getting AIDS, hepatitis, or any other blood-borne disease from this test.

How will I get the test result?

Ask your heath care provider when and how you will get the result of your test. Results from the finger-prick or gum-swabbing HIV tests may be available in 30 minutes or less. You may get results from other HIV tests in 2 to 10 days.

The test results are confidential. Confidential testing ensures that your results will be guarded with care. Positive results may be reported by name to the health department for 2 reasons. The first reason is to provide help with partner notification and referral to care. The second is to provide reports to the federal government so there can be a count of how many people have HIV. The count helps determine how much money each state needs for HIV care.

What do the test results mean?

In general, a positive HIV test means that you are infected with HIV, and a negative test means that you are not infected with HIV. The test does not directly measure or identify the HIV virus in the blood, however. Instead it measures antibodies that the body makes in response to the viral infection. Because it takes at least a few weeks for the antibodies to appear in the blood after infection by the virus, it is possible to have a negative test if you have been recently infected (this is called a false negative test). In this case, the test will become positive if it is repeated several weeks or months later. If you have a negative test result but you are in a high-risk group, you may need to have another test in 3 to 6 months. Most people test positive 6 weeks after infection.

Although the HIV tests are very precise, sometimes the test result can be positive even though you do not have HIV infection (this is called a false positive test). For this reason, when a positive result occurs, labs perform a second HIV test to check the result.

What if my test result is positive?

If your first test for HIV is positive, you should have more blood tests to confirm the results. If repeat tests are positive, you should seek medical care, even if you have no symptoms. In some cases you may need to start taking medicine to try to stop the HIV infection from developing into AIDS. You need to discuss the test results with your health care provider or an HIV counselor as soon as possible to protect your health and the health of people you love.

HIV-1 Antibodies Test $47.49

Our Ultimate STD Panel also includes the HIV-1 Antibodies Test:
Ultimate STD Panel $199.00 Add To Cart

Related Topics: Epididymitis, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV-2, HIV Recent Exposure, HIV-2 Recent Exposure, STD Testing, STD Testing for Recent Exposure, Syphillis, Urethritis, Vaginitis, Viral Hepatitis.

Copyright 2005 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

Page footer image

Page footer image

Back to top