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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a lentivirus which means it has a very long incubation period. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It is transmitted primarily through sexual contact, but can also be transmitted through sharing needles, breast milk and from mother to baby during vaginal birth.

Who should be tested?
If you are sexually active, you should be tested. In fact, the CDC recommends that every person over the age of 13 be tested at least once for HIV. If you are leading a high risk lifestyle that includes: an active heterosexual or homosexual sex lifestyle with more than one partner, sexual contact with a partner who has been diagnosed with HIV or other STDs or STIs, or intravenous needle sharing. Testing is also recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing or planning to become pregnant and believe they may have been exposed. Testing is recommended for those who are risk for HIV at 3 months, 6 months and again at 12 months. If you are experiencing symptoms and have engaged in high risk activities, you should be tested, even if you've tested negative in the past.

HIV Antibody vs. HIV by PCR

  • HIV Antibody detects an accumulation of antibodies the body produces in response to exposure to the HIV virus. This test is used for previous exposure to HIV or as a baseline test to determine past exposure.

  • HIV by PCR is a highly sensitive test that detects more acute exposure to the HIV virus. This test is used for high risk exposure through risky lifestyle choices or sexual contact with someone who engages in high risk behaviors such as prostitution, anal sex, intravenous drug use, multiple sex partners, male/male sex partners.

The HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. However, symptoms come in four stages. In the initial stages, it is likely that no visible symptoms appear or are self diagnosed incorrectly. Accurate blood testing in the early stages provides the best chance at a treatment regimen that allows for a good quality of life. Many live long, comfortable lives with HIV if proper treatment is received early enough.

  • Stage 1 - Incubation - No outward symptoms
  • Stage 2 - Acute
    • Flu-like symptoms in some people
    • Swollen glands
  • Stage 3 - Latent
    • This stage can last from 1 year to many decades
    • No outward symptoms.
    • Possible swolln glands
  • Stage 4 - AIDS
    • CD4 T and CD8 T counts drop below 200
    • Immune system is completely compromised
    • Opportunistic diseases begin to invade
      • Pneumonia
      • Tuberculosis
      • Cervical cancer
      • Lymphoma
      • Herpes
  • http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/hiv_antibody/glance.html
  • http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/guide/sexual-health-aids
  • http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005
  • http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/hiv.html
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV
  • http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/default.htm

JustGetTested is excited to be partnering with AIDS activist Daniel Bauer in a new campaign to promote HIV testing and AIDS awareness.

Daniel Bauer is "living pozitively" with HIV/AIDS. A nationally recognized motivational speaker, author, magician, escape artist and more (he's successor to the legendary Harry Houdini!), Daniel has committed himself to spreading the message about the reality of HIV/AIDS - living with it, preventing it, and breaking down the stigma of getting tested.

"All it takes is one person to step up to the plate and tell a story as real as it can get," says Daniel. "That's why I'm 100% on board with this message: Just Get Tested!"

Daniel spreads the word in a number of ways. He's a celebrated speaker at schools, conferences and events; the author of a popular blog; and an active leader in the POZ I AM social network.

His diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in 2002 prompted him to integrate AIDS awareness into his successful touring magic and escape shows, "ALIVE" and now "Beyond Belief," sponsored by JustGetTested.com in its world premiere at the 2012 AIDS Reunion. These productions are more than just show business. They're designed to push each of us toward living our lives to the fullest, and investing in the possibility of hope.

Visit www.livingpozitively.com for more about Daniel and his work.

As of 5 years ago, there were nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS.  Over 20% were undiagnosed.1

"This is the time - right now - to be bold in our actions and conversation in educating others about HIV/AIDS. No one should be afraid to Just Get Tested."

                                                                                                - Daniel Bauer

1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control


All articles have been researched and written by a non-medical professional writer, Colleen Reynolds, APR, and approved by Medical Director, Edward Salko, Jr., D.O.

All content has been updated as of 7/24/2012.

HIV/AIDS Blood Tests

Which Test is for Me? 

Our HIV Past Exposure Test is called an HIV Antibody test, because it detects the antibodies produced in response to exposure to the HIV virus. Antibodies take awhile to produce, so this test is most accurate after 3 months. If you've never been tested, this can serve as your baseline test to determine past exposure.

Our HIV Recent Exposure Test is also called an HIV PCR test. It's a highly sensitive test that is 99.9% accurate in detecting exposure to the HIV virus at 28 days or even sooner. This test is used for high risk exposure, and is for anyone who's had a high risk sexual encounter or has multiple partners, anal sex, male/male sex, uses IV drugs or practices a high risk lifestyle.

Potential Complications & Health Risks

AIDS attacks a body's immune system, making it vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis, cervical cancer and lymphoma. If you're HIV positive, you're also susceptible to herpes and other STDs.

You may want to consider the following tests to determine if you’ve been exposed to other sexually transmitted diseases.(The Recent Exposure and Comprehensive STD Profiles below include tests for HIV.)

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