HIV Testing in Singapore: HIV is a virus that damages the immune system, leaving one vulnerable to other infections. It’s acquired through bodily fluids (blood and sex). Treatment can help to manage the illness.
There is a blood test for HIV. The test looks for the genetic material of the virus in the person’s blood. Sometimes, a false positive result may occur, where the test is positive even though there’s no HIV. Because of this, positive tests are repeated. If the test is still positive, then a more sensitive test is done to confirm the result. If all of the tests are positive, then the person is diagnosed with HIV. There is now a test called a rapid HIV test that produces results in about 20 minutes, so you don’t have to wait to hear back about the results.
If you know that you’ve been exposed to HIV (for instance, because you were stuck by a contaminated needle), then testing is usually done several times over the course of six months. This is because the test may be negative in the initial stages of the infection, when the virus hasn’t had much time to replicate, so there isn’t very much virus in the blood. Later, as more and more viruses are made, the levels of virus in the blood rise, and it becomes detectable.
If you don’t have a known exposure to HIV, but you have risk factors (for instance, multiple sexual partners, or the use of drugs that are injected by needle), then it’s recommended that you undergo screening at least once a year, and possibly as often as every 3-6 months. Many clinics provide anonymous HIV testing, so you can be screened without worrying that others will find out about your status if you’re positive.
Once a person has HIV, he or she will receive regular testing of the CD4 count. CD4 cells are the specific type of immune cells that are destroyed by the HIV virus. Therefore, the CD4 count provides a measurement of how well the person’s immune system is doing. When the CD4 count is low, the immune system is severely damaged, and the person is at risk of getting infections. When the CD4 count is high, the immune system is doing well.