What is HIV?
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus spread through body fluids such as blood or sexual fluids that over time damages your immune system which can then lead to the development of AIDS. As such HIV is a potential life threatening illness. You can read more about HIV at the Wiki.
How can I test for HIV in New Zealand?
Currently you have several options to test for HIV in NZ. You can consult with your GP who will arrange for testing or you can visit a STD / STI testing clinic who in most case will test you during that same visit. Alternatively you can purchase home test kits and test at home using the HIV rapid test device. Currently you can not buy these at the Pharmacy within NZ so you will need to purchase your home test kits online.
What is the difference between HIV-1 and HIV-2?
There are two strains of HIV. HIV-1 is the retrovirus usually associated with the epidemic in most of the world. HIV-2 is primarily epidemic in West Africa. The iCare home use rapid test kits that we supply are effective in detecting both strains.
How is HIV is transmitted from one individual to another?
The HIV virus is transmitted by the body fluids of an HIV-infected person entering another person (through blood or body opening). Typically HIV cannot be transmitted by light body contact that exchanges fluids such as sweat or tears etc. For HIV infection to take place the HIV virus must enter the bloodstream of the person usually through sexual contact or blood exchanges (which includes transfusions and such practices that potentially exchange blood such as tattooing and needle sharing). The HIV virus is effective at entering the bloodstream through the mucus membranes or through small breaks in the skin which is why unprotected sexual intercourse is such a high risk in terms of HIV infection. Infection through sexual intercourse usually occurs through unprotected vaginal or anal sex as the infected body fluids enter through the mucous membrane or small skin breaks in the vagina or anus.
Are some HIV infected individuals more contagious?
Any individual infected with HIV is a potential risk in terms of infection. There are some variables such as your own immune system strength and how long ago the individual was infected. Recently infected individuals who are most likely unaware of their infection are very contagious. This is of course a high risk as you have a person who does not know they are infected who has practices unsafe sex (which is the likely cause of their infection) putting others at risk when they are most infectious.
What are HIV Symptoms?
Fever, aches and fatigue are some of the symptoms that may occur during the development of antibodies to the HIV virus which develop between 4-12 weeks after infection. However these are also common cold/flu symptoms and many individuals develop no symptoms at all. As such it is widely recognised that HIV infection has no unique and identifiable symptoms and that many individuals who are infected with HIV are unaware of their HIV status.
I need to test for STI, HIV infection?
If you have had unprotected sex with any individual of which you do not 100% know their sexual health status and sexual history then you are at risk from an STI or HIV infection. If you have had a blood transfusion, been cut by a needle or received a tattoo from a technician who shares needles or ink (blood in ink is a potential risk) then you are at risk from HIV infection. It is important to remember many people are less than truthful about unprotected sexual history and many have knowingly been at risk and put off testing for personal reasons. It is these individuals who have declined testing even though they know they have been at risk who predominantly infect others with HIV.
What about the other STIs/STDs?
Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and Hepatitis B all pose serious health risks if left undiagnosed and treated. Testing is easy with our Multi-std test kit pack.,
How long must I wait before testing?
Testing for HIV involves the detection of HIV antibodies that are produced by the immune system in response to HIV infection. These antibodies can take up to 3 months to develop and become detectable in the bloodstream. However in most individuals this occurs within the 1st 4 weeks after HIV infection. So if you have had unprotected sex you should start testing 4 weeks after the incident and conclude testing 12 weeks after the incident. So as such, when testing a potential sex partner to see if they are safe to have unprotected sex with, unless you are 100% aware of their full sexual history over the last 12 weeks then a negative result now has no value as they may not have yet developed the HIV antibodies.
Where can I buy the HIV home test kits in New Zealand?
Currently in New Zealand the rapid HIV test kits are not available through any retail outlets and are only available for sale online. You can elect to visit an STI/STD clinic, many of whom use rapid test kits. If you decide to purchase your STD/STI/HIV rapid test kits directly then they will be delivered discreetly to your home and you can test at your own convenience in total privacy.
How long must I wait for the results?
All our STI/STD/HIV test kits give 99%+ accurate results within minutes. You do not need to send any sample through the pots as the kits function with a small sample fluid and then indicate to you via a results window. All kits come with easy to follow instructions.
I’m confused, what should I do?
If you are in doubt or have serious concerns about your STI or HIV status or that of your current or recent partner then you should test. If you do not feel able to test by yourself then you should consult your GP urgently and refrain from any sexual contact until your status is known.
What about counselling?
If you elect to test through your GP or an STI or HIV testing facility you will be offered access to counselling to support you during and after the test depending on the results. This can be a very valuable service. Occasionally this can delay testing in individuals who do not wish to interact with anyone. However if you are delaying testing an feel home testing may not be for you you should seek assistance and gain access to the value of counselling. Whichever path you choose to use for testing, the most important choice is to test as soon as you can.