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How An Early HIV Test Can Prevent Mother-to-infant Transmission

HIV is still known as the deadliest virus in modern history that has wreaked havoc to millions of people around the world. The human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a virus that is a precursor to a much more known disease called AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) that critically damages the body’s immune system.

HIV has been around for quite some time, and since its discovery in 1981 there has still been no known vaccine or cure for it. The human body can’t get rid of it, so once you have been contracted, you’ll have it for the rest of your life. Even if you do get HIV though, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be sick for the rest of your life. There are plenty of HIV-positive cases where they can lead a normal life thanks to early detection. What’s important is that you can manage the disease and prevent it from transitioning to AIDS.

It doesn’t change the fact, however, that contracting HIV is life-changing and can affect not only your physical health but your social and psychological health as well. Knowing the repercussions that HIV can do to a person’s life, how much more can it be to an infant? So, if you’re a pregnant woman and you’re having some doubts about whether you have contracted HIV, it is highly recommend that you take an early HIV test in Singapore so that you can prevent mother-to-infant transmission and save your child.

How An Early HIV Test Can Prevent Mother-to-infant Transmission

What is the mother-to-infant transmission of HIV?

Also known as a perinatal transmission, the mother-to-instant transmission of HIV is the spread of the virus from an infected mother to her baby during these particular scenarios:

  • Pregnancy – the virus can enter through the placenta and infect the fetus.
  • Labor and delivery – when a woman goes into labor, the amniotic sac breaks and there’s a high possibility that the baby may be exposed to the virus through the mother’s blood and other fluids.
  • Breastfeeding– the breast milk being breastfed to the baby may be infected by the virus.

What is an HIV test?

The only way for you to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Having prior knowledge about your HIV status gives you the upper hand to keep you, your partner and your baby (if you’re pregnant) healthy. HIV testing is a variety of tests to check whether you’re infected or not, wherein a sample of blood or other body fluid is taken to determine if you have contracted the virus.

How does taking an HIV test help me?

Even though there is no vaccine currently available that will prevent HIV infection, that shouldn’t discourage you to take an HIV test. Taking an early HIV test is still the wise thing to do because it gives you powerful information on how you would handle your situation in case you do have the virus.

If you test positive, prescription medicine is given to reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. An HIV treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is a form of therapy that decreases the blood HIV level (viral load) reduces the chance of HIV-related disease and reduces the danger of HIV transmission to other people. Maintaining an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. Moreover, people with HIV who are taking ART, have very little risk of transmitting HIV. 

If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention methods today that you could apply to keep yourself HIV free. This will help you make wise decisions regarding sex, drug use, and health care that can protect you from the virus. If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can have treatment as soon as you know that you’re positive. Studies show that a woman who is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy has a lower risk of transmitting HIV to her baby –a chance of about 1% or less. There are some cases of women with HIV giving birth to an HIV-negative baby.

Pregnant Belly

What kinds of tests are available, and how do they work?

HIV tests being offered nowadays are of three kinds, namely the nucleic acid testing (NAT), antigen/antibody testing, and antibody testing. Your blood, oral fluid, and urine are some of the common specimens for an HIV test.

  • A nucleic acid test is an HIV test that searches for HIV in the blood by drawing blood from a vein. It searches for the actual virus and not the antibodies that handle the virus. The test can show how much of the virus is present in the blood (known as an HIV viral load test) that can tell if a person has HIV or not. This test is very costly and is not commonly used to screen individuals unless they have recently had a high-risk exposure or a potential exposure to early HIV symptoms.
  • HIV antibody test is an HIV test that looks for the antibodies that handle the HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In the preliminary stage of an HIV infection, the virus is difficult to detect and instead of looking for the virus, you look for the antibodies that handle it. Antibodies are produced by the body in reaction to the presence of a virus.  An HIV antibody test measures the presence of antibodies, so that if there is a buildup in their numbers, it means your positive for the virus. Some of the common HIV antibody tests being conducted nowadays are ELISA (EIA) and Western Blot.
  • An antigen/antibody test is an HIV test that looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens. Antigens are foreign substances responsible for activating your immune system. Before HIV-1 or HIV-2 antibodies are developed, an antigen called p24 is produced to activate your immune system to produce those antibodies. Same as the other tests, this HIV test also involves drawing blood from a vein. Moreover, there is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick.

It is always recommended for patients to undergo HIV tests before they become pregnant. So, if you happen to be pregnant and are concerned whether you have HIV, it’s never too late to have an HIV test. You may contact the DB Medical for an anonymous HIV test today.

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