HIV Seroconversion: Symptoms, Tests, and Treatment

HIV Seroconversion: Symptoms, Tests, and Treatment

Fact: The average risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection after percutaneous exposure to HIV-infected blood is 0.3 percent. 

Most HIV screening tests are fully automated and any look for antibodies to the virus. Consequently, a test performed before the onset of seroconversion will typically yield a negative result for the presence of the virus as the level of antibodies remains undetectable.

After the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enters your body, there’s a certain amount of time that has to pass before a test can detect it. This is called the HIV window period, the time after infection to seroconversion, during which markers of infection (p24 antigen and antibodies) are still absent or too scarce to be detectable. Tests cannot always detect HIV infection during the window period. 

With screening tests that look for antibodies against HIV, the HIV window period can last from 2 weeks to 6 months before HIV infection can be detected after an exposure. 

This window period can be shortened by using a 4th generation antigen/antibody combined test. This can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after an exposure.

The window period can be further shortened by the use of an HIV DND or RNA test. This can close the HIV window period to about 9-11 days. 

As an infected person may have negative HIV test results but still be able to infect other people during the window period, every effort is made to close the window period as much as possible when testing

Due to the higher cost of antigen and RNA / NAT testing, many laboratories will pool samples and then test for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibodies with a single test. A single test on pooled samples can then be followed by individual testing of positive pools.

Pooling has been shown to reduce the costs of screening and time needed for analysis by up to 70%.

Here, we discuss further the different types of HIV tests and explore seroconversion and how it relates to HIV testing. 

HIV Seroconversion: What Is It?

As soon as you get infected with HIV, the virus quickly multiplies in your body. Your immune system produces antibodies as a reaction to the infection— Seroconversion is the name given to this period during which the transition from infection with HIV to the detectable presence of HIV antibodies in the blood occurs.  

One to two weeks after infection, antibodies begin to develop, and they’ll continue to rise over the following months. Seroconversion occurs within three weeks after infection in the vast majority of people.

Seroconversion of HIV

Helvetica Health Care provides a wide variety of SEROCONVERSION, SURVEILLANCE, and LONGITUDINAL PANELS used to identify asymptomatic donors infected with HIV/HCV/HBV/EBV. Feasible diagnostic kits are used to test for essential indicators of seroconversion in our panels. All testing is carried out by accredited laboratories and regulatory bodies from both the United States and abroad.

Is there a pre-seroconversion symptom list?

Knowing the symptoms of seroconversion disease may help individuals stay healthy in the long run, so understanding symptoms is always sensible. The sooner someone recognises the signs and gets tested for HIV, the more likely they will know their status and start treatment as soon as possible.

Individuals can have symptoms that are similar to those of the flu or other viruses like:

  • Lymph node swelling
  • Headache,
  • Rash
  • Fever

Short-term to long-term symptoms are possible; they might be minor or severe. However, there won’t be any symptoms during the early stages of infection. Individuals are most likely not even aware that they have HIV throughout this period.

HIV Test

It is critical to do HIV testing to diagnose the disease sooner, reducing the spread of the virus. The only way to know whether you have HIV is to get a test performed. People with HIV may not know they have it in some instances since the virus does not usually create any noticeable symptoms.

HIV screening criteria need to be broadened to encompass a broader range of indicators and symptoms to improve early detection and prevention, and treatment of acute HIV infection, according to research published in 2016.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 13 to 64 should get at least one type of HIV test as part of standard medical treatment. The CDC advises anyone at risk of developing HIV to have a blood test every year.

Since scientists initially discovered the virus, the accuracy of HIV testing has considerably increased. HIV cannot be correctly detected in a person shortly after infection since no test can identify the virus in that person right away.

Tests for HIV are divided into three categories:

1. Tests for DNA (NATs)

With these, you can see whether there is any virus-specific RNA in the blood sample. The viral load, a measure of the virus’s abundance, may be gleaned from these tests. NATs are accurate in the early stages of infection, but they are prohibitively costly. These tests are usually reserved for those recently exposed to high-risk situations and show early signs of HIV infection by their healthcare professionals.

2. Tests for antibodies and antigens

Combination or fourth-generation tests, which look for both antibodies and antigens. Antigens are part of the virus itself. One antigen, p24, is detectable before your body starts making antibodies. These tests are becoming more common in the U.S.

3. Tests for antibodies

To perform this test, the subject in question must provide a sample of blood or oral fluid. HIV tests that can be done in the privacy of your home fall into this category. If blood from a vein is used for the antibody test, it may identify HIV sooner than an oral fluid test or blood from a finger prick.

Treatment for HIV 

Most HIV patients may live long and healthy lives even though there is no cure.

Antiretroviral therapy, or ARV therapy, often entails taking three or more HIV drugs every day. Slowing the development of HIV and protecting the body’s immune system are the primary goals of HIV medications. Taking antiretroviral medication as prescribed by your doctor may help you achieve viral load erasure. 

There is almost minimal chance of spreading HIV to another person if a person’s viral level is undetectable. Further research is needed to ascertain whether the virus may still be transmitted HIV by sharing a needle. Experts also advise against breastfeeding for HIV-positive moms.

HIV is a disease that cannot be cured, but it may be managed. Even though your body produces antibodies against HIV, these antibodies aren’t powerful enough to protect you against infection. Chronic infections may persist for up to ten years without treatment, putting you at risk of HIV AIDS sooner.

undetectable viral load

AIDS and other diseases can’t spread since your immune system hasn’t been compromised to that extent, which is the purpose of therapy. To prevent the virus from reactivating, your doctor will be prescribed antiretroviral medicine. These are some examples:

  • Anti-protease agents
  • Nuclear receptor RT-inhibitors of the nucleoside kind
  • Inhibitors of reverse transcriptase that are not nucleosides
  • Inhibitors of integrase strand transfer

Patients who get therapy early on have a better chance of recovery. Talk to your doctor if you believe you have been exposed to HIV. They can’t treat you for an infection straight immediately since seroconversion takes time and can’t be found right away.

Our range of VERIFICATION / VALIDATION Panels are designed to use assays to determine the presence of antigen, antibody RNA or DNA based upon the intended use of the panel. Visit the Helvetica Health Care Website for more information.