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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diagnosis of AIDS/HIV. How is HIV/AIDS Diagnosed?

How is HIV/AIDS Diagnosed?
Don't Rely on Symptoms to Decide if You Have HIV/AIDS

The importance of early diagnosis of HIV can't be overstated. Two-plus decades of HIV and AIDS research has proven that the earlier HIV is diagnosed, the better the prognosis and the likelihood of a long, healthy life. So how are HIV and AIDS diagnosed?

Diagnosing HIV
Diagnosing HIV can be done using blood, saliva, or by using cells from the inside of the cheek. Because HIV carries such stigma and prejudices, great care is taken to protect the identity of those being tested. This is done in two ways:

    * Confidential for a Fee - Your name will be linked to the test but the test results are kept confidential. Usually there is a fee assessed for these tests but most insurance plans will cover the charge. These tests are usually used by hospitals, labs, and doctor's offices.

    * Anonymous and Free - Tests can also be anonymous, meaning your name is not linked to the test at all. A random identifier using numbers, letters, or any fake name of your choice is used instead of your real name. The results are confidential, but even if someone gets the results by mistake, they would be unable to link you to the result. These tests are usually free and offered in community HIV agencies or health departments.

For more information on HIV testing:

    * All You Need to Know About HIV Tests
    * How Do You Know You Need an HIV Test?
    * 5 Great Reasons to Be Tested for HIV
    * Should We All Be HIV Tested?
    * What is a Rapid HIV Test?
    * Beware - Not All HIV Tests are the Same

Diagnosing AIDS

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, is a condition that describes an advanced state of HIV infection. With AIDS, the virus has progressed, causing significant loss of CD4 cells, weakening the immune system to such an extent that the body is at risk for those illnesses and infections said to be "AIDS-defining." Those illnesses and infections are said to be AIDS-defining because they mark the onset of AIDS. A person is also diagnosed with AIDS when their CD4 count falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood, the level at which the immune system can no longer protect a person from the AIDS-defining illnesses and infections.

    * What Are the AIDS-Defining Illnesses?
    * What is My CD4 Count and Why is it Important?
    * What Exactly is a CD4 Cell?

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