Healthy Living

How is AIDS Diagnosed?


How Doctors Diagnose AIDS. 

When doctors diagnose AIDS, the doctors need to run a test. If the test comes out to be "positive" and there is a low CD4 cell count then a person is Considered to have AIDS. The process of the HIV testing involves two steps. There is a screening test and a confirmatory test. The first thing doctors do in the screening test is to look for antibodies that fight against the HIV virus. Doctors extract the antibodies from the following ways: 

  • Finger stick 
  • Urine sample 
  • Oral swab 

The results usually come back within a couple of minutes because of new rapid testing.  The results may also take a couple of days, if rapid testing is not used.  Regardless of how long it takes, if the results are positive it is confirmed from a special test called Western blot or indirect immunofluorescence assay test. Western blot detects antibodies to specific parts of the HIV virus and acts like a double check to the screening test. Sometimes the regular screening test can be inaccurate so doctors use the western blot test to provide more information and truly determine if someone has AIDS. Another way doctors diagnose HIV is doing a special test to detect viral particles in the blood but is used for determining treatment rather than diagnosis. 

If I have HIV do I have AIDS? 

The short answer is no. HIV is a virus and can result in AIDS, which is the last stage of HIV. Keep in mind that no one can get AIDS if they do not have HIV. A big factor in determining if someone has AIDS is if their CD4 Cell count is lower than 200 cells per milliliter of blood. It is also possible that your doctor uses the lab tests to check for other infections.  

If you do test positive. 

The good news is that there is still hope but the bad news is there is no cure for HIV yet. With the right treatment and proper care it is possible to control HIV with medications. This will prevent HIV becoming AIDS. If you do test positive you are not alone, there are 1.2 million people in the United States who are living with HIV. It is really important that you still make healthy choices and stay healthy. Living with HIV is a not a way to label someone. It is important that if you have HIV that you start medical care and treatment right away. Medicine is the most common and recommended way for all people with HIV as from  It is called  antiretroviral therapy or ART. So talk with your doctor and take medicine as described. Another thing to is be honest with your sex partners and those around you. Letting other people know especially people around you is vital to help keep everyone healthy.  

The bottom line. 

Being tested for HIV is a life-changing event and can lead to a lot of negative emotions. The truth is that there is still hope and it is not the end. So make sure to talk to your doctor and make sure that everything is being done to control the virus. Also there is support for those with HIV through health care providers and social service providers as people experience sadness and even anger so it is best to always talk to others and your doctor.

Additional diagnostic tests

The most common and first few ways of diagnosing AIDS have been discussed. Let us now throw light on some of the alternate tests that are done to confirm AIDS. Most of the time, a series of tests are performed on the patient. This is because the doctor has to be sure of the condition before starting the treatment. Moreover, it is done in two steps. While step one focuses on confirming if the patient is HIV positive, the second step acts as a confirmatory test for AIDS. Owing to the advances in science, it is now possible to accurately confirm or rule out the virus. Different tests are administered for different patients and the diagnosis begins to the best of the patient’s health.

ELISA test: ELISA or Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay test is the most common test that is used to diagnose infection via HIV. Once this test comes out positive, the next step is to do a Western Blot test. However, in cases where the test proves to be negative, a repeat test is normally advised to the patient after a span of three months.

Western Blot test: As discussed, this test is a sensitive one that is used to confirm the condition after an ELISA test has given a positive result.

Home Access Express Test: This is the only test that has been approved to try at home. Easily available in pharmacies over the counter, it is checked by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Viral Load test: This is a test used to detect the quantity of HIV in a person’s blood. The result is confirmed after finding out changes in the DNA sequences. It can easily detect even early HIV infection.

All the above tests may not work for all the patients. The doctor must test and see which test produces optimal results. Depending on the result of the test, a repeat test is suggested at times. During other times, additional confirmatory tests are administered just to be doubly sure of the condition. Following the diagnosis, the treatment is started immediately. A combination of more than one therapy is used to treat the patient or control the symptoms. This includes stress-free lifestyle, health monitoring, medical therapy, counseling sessions, support groups or forums and extra aid as and when needed by the patient, for him and his family.  AIDS is a life threatening disease. Any delay in identifying the cause, problem or treatment method could cause the condition to worsen. Thus, proper medical advice should be taken and followed at all times. However, due to the stigma surrounding AIDS, people are weary of going to the doctor, which is not advised. Seek medical advise if you feel you have any of the symptoms.