HIV is the abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, an infection for which there is no cure. The virus often causes no symptoms, so people frequently do not know that they have it. Without treatment, HIV can progress into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS, a chronic condition where the immune system is weakened. AIDS can cause serious health problems and may result in death.
HIV can be transmitted a number of different ways. It can be spread through unprotected sexual intercourse and from blood transfusions. Mothers can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In addition, sharing needles and syringes for intravenous drug use can also lead to HIV infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that all people between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once for HIV. Those who engage in at-risk behaviors should test more frequently. Testing is important, as early treatment for HIV can reduce the risk of the virus developing into AIDS. In addition, knowing that you have HIV will allow you to take steps to protect sexual partners from the condition.
Although HIV testing is a positive thing, some people are embarrassed or fearful of visiting a doctor or clinic to undergo a test. HIV home test kits enable you to test at home. Most tests may determine whether or not you have contracted HIV at least 3 months after any risky behavior. To test, you typically take a sample of saliva, place it in a test tube and wait for the results.
It is imperative to thoroughly read and follow all directions provided on product labeling in order to obtain the most accurate HIV home test results possible. If you receive a positive test result, indicating that you may have HIV, visit a doctor or clinic as soon as possible for a blood test. To reduce your risk of contracting HIV, use a condom during anal and vaginal intercourse and avoid sharing needles.