Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) erupted into the public consciousness in the mid-1980s as a disease concentrated in one group of people; however, the HIV virus does not discriminate. HIV impacts every U.S. demographic and subculture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all individuals living with HIV are over 50 years old, and an estimated 13% of HIV-infected individuals don't know they are HIV positive. The CDC recommends everyone 13 to 64 years of age test for HIV as part of routine wellness care.
Prevention & Treatment
Anyone can become infected with HIV through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, or from shared needles and equipment. HIV infection can be prevented through sexual abstinence, consistent use of condoms, communication of you and your partners’ sexual history, and consistent use of prescribed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication.
The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. While there is no cure for HIV, there are effective treatments that allow an HIV-infected person to live a whole and complete life. When left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS.
Who & How Often Should Individuals Test for HIV?
Those who should test regularly:
- All pregnant people should be tested for HIV as early as possible, and as often as deemed necessary by their medical provider.
- Sexually active men who have sex, particularly anal sex, with multiple male partners should test for HIV as part of their regular 3-month sexually transmitted infection screening, which includes testing for known HIV co-infections syphilis and chlamydia.
Those who should test at least once a year:
- A man in a monogamous sexual relationship with another man or woman.
- A woman in a monogamous sexual relationship with a man or woman.
- Women who have multiple sex partners, male or female, whose sexual history is known.
- Individuals who have sex with someone who is known HIV positive.
- Individuals who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Individuals who have had sex with someone with unknown STI history.
- Individuals who have been diagnosed or treated for viral hepatitis or tuberculosis.
- Individuals who have shared needles or other drug injection equipment.
- Individuals who exchange sex for money, drugs, or housing.
- Individuals who have been incarcerated.
Screening & Confirmation Testing for HIV
The HIV antigen/antibody screening and antibody-differentiation confirmation testing requires a combined 2 mL serum or plasma collected no more than 7 days prior to arrival at the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratory (KHEL). The serum or plasma must arrive at KHEL at refrigerator temperature 37- 46 °F (2-8 °C) in a poured-off specimen tube. Follow the collection and shipping instructions found on the back of the Universal Form.
If the initial HIV screening results is Reactive, the specimen undergoes an antibody-differentiation confirmation test. If the antibody-differentiation confirmation test is negative or cannot determine the antibodies to be HIV 1 or HIV 2, the specimen is sent to an outside public health laboratory for an HIV nucleic acid test (NAT). The NAT tests for the presence of HIV viral nucleic material as a new HIV infection may have yet to generate enough detectable antibodies in a patient’s serum.
The NAT confirmation test requires 1.5 mL serum or plasma. If the NAT is required, and there is not enough specimen for a NAT confirmation test, a request for re-collection will be made. If you have any questions, contact KHEL during business hours.