How to Know If You Have an HIV Infection

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It's probably the one question we are most asked from online readers and is most often due to either one of two things: a past or recent event that may have exposed that person to the virus, or a symptom that some might believe are consistent with HIV.

It also tends to be a worrisome question insofar as there is only one, real way to know whether a person has HIV or not, and that's by getting an HIV test. Today it recommended that all Americans between the ages of 15 and 65 be tested for HIV simply because early identification allows for an individual to be treated well before any ill effects of the disease can develop.

By contrast, waiting only allows the disease to progress, often silently, during which time the virus can cause long-term damage to not only the immune system but other organ systems, as well.

Activities That Come With a Risk of Exposure

The simplest way to answer the question "Do I have HIV?" is to ask yourself the following:

  • Have you ever engaged in sex without condoms?
  • Have you ever injected drugs?
  • Have you ever had a condom burst or slip off?
  • Have you had sex with someone you didn't know or just met?
  • Have you ever had sex with someone whose HIV status you didn't know?
  • Have you had multiple sex partners?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then, yes, there is a chance that you've have been exposed to HIV. While it doesn't necessarily that mean you have HIV, it does suggest you get tested.

But if, on the other hand, something is holding you back, take the opportunity to educate yourself about the virus. Learn as much as you can about how the virus spread, how the virus is not spread, and what it actually means to have HIV.

In the end, the more you understand about the disease, the less fear you'll have in taking the steps to protect yourself whether you have the virus or not.

High and Low-Risk Activities

While HIV can potentially be spread by contact with blood, semen, or other body fluids, there are certain activities considered to be of high risk, low risk, and even negligible risk for HIV. Learn what four conditions must be present in order for an HIV infection to occur, as well as the "per incidence" risk of HIV by act.

Can You Tell If Someone Has HIV?

There are some who still believe that you can point out a person who has HIV, either by physical appearance and/or by assessing the "type" of person they are. While there is absolutely no truth to thee beliefs, there are characteristics by which certain people with HIV are more likely to transmit the virus to others.

Early Signs

Within a week or two of exposure, around 40% of newly infected individual will exhibit sign of acute seroconversion, ranging from minor flu-like symptoms (fevers, chills) to more serious physical manifestations of the disease.

Symptoms by Stage

The course of an HIV infection can vary from person to person, with the disease progressing faster in some than in others. With that being said, there are are some opportunistic infections that are more likely to develop as certain stages of infections. Learn what these infections are, as well as the symptoms you would likely experience if they were to occur.

Testing Options

Irrespective of whether there are signs of infection or not, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to get an HIV test. You can get tested by your family doctor, at a free anonymous testing site, or by purchasing an in-home test kit.

If you HIV negative, you can at least move forward with a better understanding of how to remain negative. If you are positive, you can take steps to ensure that you remain healthy for many years by taking HIV therapy, which is not only incredibly effective but has far fewer side effects than ever before.

So do yourself a favor. Get tested today and get the peace of mind you deserve.

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