What's All The Fuss About HIV Antibodies and Antigens?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually Transmitted disease that quickly sends a shiver down the spine with great fear gripping the audience, listener, or reader whenever it is mentioned. This is largely because of the deadly nature of the virus and the fact that it is still impossible to cure as at today, thereby making it very expensive to manage whenever one or one’s family member has the infection.
Antibodies, on the other hand, are tiny proteins that are produced by the body in the event of a pathogenic invasion. Have you ever wondered what happens when there is a pathogenic entry into your body system? How do you think your body gets rid of various foreign agents you come in contact with every day? The answer is simple, the body produces these tiny sets of antibodies that immediately fight the infection and eventually kick them out of your body so you can continue with your normal daily routine.
There are various antibodies produced in response to different infections, of which the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is inclusive. HIV antibodies are however specific in nature but just like all other antibodies, the HIV antibodies fight against the pathogen and try to restore the normalcy of the body. These particular HIV antibodies are important in HIV screening, as the presence of the antibodies indicates the presence of the virus in the body.
Reasons for antibodies generation in the body
Worthy of note is the fact that antibodies are also called Immunoglobin (Globin is one of the plasma proteins in the body) and they are released into the bloodstream by the white blood cells during a pathogenic invasion. The generation of antibodies play a very important role in maintaining the normal health status of the body, some of the reasons the antibodies are generated are:
- Antibodies serve as the first line of defense in the body. The body, naturally, with the help of the lymphocytes (part of the white blood cell) produces these tiny antibodies in response to the entry of pathogens so as to fight against the infection.
- Antibodies combine with the antigen (the invading pathogen) to form Antigen-Antibody complex which will be eventually destroyed and removed from the body.
- The generation of antibodies in the body is important in the determination of the particular infection contained in the body. It serves as a basis for laboratory diagnosis with the use of antibodies recognition kits.
Characteristics of HIV antibodies
As stated earlier, the antibodies generated by the body in response to HIV are different from antibodies generated for other infections. HIV antibodies present some peculiarities and uniqueness inasmuch as they also perform the same function as other antibodies, some of the peculiarities of the HIV antibodies are as follows:
- At the early stage of the infection with the virus, the antibody will be absent in the blood and appear negative when tested, this period of non-visibility of the antibodies in the blood is known as the WINDOW PERIOD of HIV.
- If the antibodies are absent in the blood, the test result will be negative but if the antibodies are present in the blood, the test result will be positive. This is a confirmation that the antibodies are the basis for a laboratory test of HIV.
- Being positive to the antibodies test does not necessarily mean one has AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), it is only a confirmation that one is infected with the virus.
- A laboratory test for antibodies using the Rapid Test Kits (RTK) usually do not take a long time, just within 10 to 20 minutes, the result of the test will be available.
- The number of antibodies in the blood cannot be determined by the Rapid Test Kits, it only determines if the antibodies are present or absent.
- Generated antibodies by the body in response to the pathogenic entry are constantly destroyed by the virus. This is the more reason the virus is considered a dangerous and deadly virus because they majorly attack the cells that are meant to destroy them.
- Examples of HIV antibodies include IgA (Immunoglobulin Alpha), IgE (Immunoglobulin Epsalum), IgG (Immunoglobulin Gamma), etc.
It is important to conclude that we have seen that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus as a terrible virus that immediately attacks the immune system of the body and renders them useless, especially the antibodies generated to destroy them.
However, the antibodies play a very important role in the diagnosis of the viral infection and in the actual determination of the presence or absence of the virus in the body. It suffices to also say that a simple abstinence from unprotected sexual intercourse will save one the stress of HIV management and demoralization associated with contracting the infection.