Among the most effective ways to prevent HIV among high-risk populations is through regular and accessible HIV testing.
Long noted as a method of preventing HIV and AIDS from spreading from one sexual partner to the next and from mother to child, a simple test administered at a health clinic or hospital can alert individuals to the presence of HIV in their bloodstream.
Here’s what you should know about the specifics of HIV testing and its role in preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS in high-risk populations.
HIV Testing for High-Risk Individuals
Primary Infection Screening
A primary infection screening detects HIV faster than traditional methods, alerting a man or woman that they have HIV seven to ten days after exposure. During this time, they can take the steps necessary to prevent the transmission of the disease to others by practicing safe sex.
The infection period, often missed by standard testing, proves to be critical in preventing new cases of HIV infection. Experts found that 30 to 50 percent of newly transmitted HIV infections comes from men and women who aren’t aware they have the virus and have passed it onto a sexual partner. This form of HIV testing was introduced to San Diego and the instances of new diagnoses decreased significantly. This proved to be very beneficial to researchers as it proved that early testing worked and worked well.
Molecular HIV Testing
The San Diegan screening program implemented molecular HIV testing. It used serology and nucleic acid testing to detect HIV and alert individuals that they had the virus before passing it on through high-risk sexual behavior. The Early Test, a relatively new form of testing, was established in 2007.
Results of Early HIV Testing
As many as 100 fewer new HIV diagnoses occurred in the region five years later in 2012 suggesting that the early HIV testing program worked better than traditional HIV testing. By encouraging men and women in high-risk populations to agree to early HIV testing, the transmission of the virus decreases dramatically. To protect themselves and their sexual partners from HIV and other STDs, men and women should practice safe sex by using condoms and telling others that they are HIV-positive.