You Think You Are HIV Negative? Think Again!
Going through an HIV test and coming out with a negative result can be a mighty relief. This is a very important step which should be commended because it is a first step towards taking care of one’s self and health. It is, however, important to know that it could take a couple of weeks or months in rare cases for an HIV test result to come out positive after a person is infected.
This remarkable period of time is referred to as the ‘window period.’ Consequently, if one has had any possible exposure to HIV within the frame of 3 months, a test is necessary so as to be sure of the current HIV status.
What an HIV Negative result means
The simple explanation for a test which comes back negative is that the fellow does not have HIV. One should be aware fully at this stage that testing negative does not mean that his or her partners would test negative also. HIV results simply apply to a single person irrespective of how many sexual partners he/she keeps. This necessitates encouraging a person’s partner to go through the test so as to ascertain their current status.
Reasons it is not smart or advisable to think you are HIV Negative
Getting tested regularly is a method of doing something wonderful for yourself and the community at large. Drawing inferences that you are HIV negative might be very misleading for the following reasons:
- HIV is most dangerous to the infected person when they are ignorant of its existence. Replication takes place very quickly when a person becomes infected with HIV, and after few weeks, a lot would have been lost in the system. This is as a result of the millions of virus currently circulating through your system which is referred to as the ‘acute infection phase.' After this acute phase of infection, the natural immune system of the body will bring the viral load down to a stable level. If at this stage treatment is started, the loading of HIV can be drastically reduced to a point where it cannot be detected by a blood test.
- HIV takes time before it shows up in a blood test. When an HIV test is done, it looks into the past and not the present. This means that the result is not as up to date in terms of the current status of the person but for about three to four weeks earlier. A blood test at the earliest period can show a positive result two weeks after exposure to HIV but getting an accurate result would take time. This period is referred to as ‘the window period.’ By implication, if you were infected about 2 weeks ago, the HIV test could still come out negative today and any sexual intercourse engaged in an unprotected way with other partners at that point would put them at the risk of contracting the virus.
- About 40% of people with HIV would experience no symptoms. There are no general symptoms which everyone will experience when they become infected at the early stage. Some of the symptoms experienced may be easily confused with various illnesses like the flu or cold. In some circumstances, it can take up to ten years for clear symptoms to be experienced, at which point the immune system will likely have been depleted massively and AIDS would have developed. When one gets to this level, it can be very difficult to fight off other opportunistic infections which pose a threat to life.
Facts to note after testing to be HIV negative
- One can stop worrying if the HIV result is negative but it is good to keep testing regularly.
- You would need to give your blood samples to have your results reconfirmed irrespective of what the result says.
- HIV has become a very manageable illness and when a test is done with a positive result, it is important to contact a healthcare provider who would explain treatment options so as to stay healthy.
There are various things one can do to protect one’s health after awareness of being negative. These include but are not limited to:
- Seeing a doctor regularly if one does not do so already because it is a good idea to have consistent check-up since the doctor would have a medical history of the health status. This would help in case the patient falls sick, it would aid a quick response to take since they are conversant with the patient.
- Asking for support from support services which can help one stick to the decision to stay safe.
Testing negative to an HIV test does not imply that one is immune to the virus and for this reason, it is imperative to continue with preventive measures to remain totally healthy. One should not, therefore, give up the shield by sharing needles or having unprotected sex simply because a one-time HIV result ended negatively.