HIV Testing in the Emergency Department
HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. HIV damages the immune system—the part of the body that helps fight off infections. People with HIV are at risk for serious infections and death. HIV is spread through sexual activity with a person who has HIV, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It may also be spread by sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV, and it can be passed from mothers to their babies. People who have one sexually-transmitted infection (such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, or syphilis) are at increased risk for having another infection such as HIV.
It is important to know if you have HIV. Although there is no cure for HIV, there are medicines that can help people who are diagnosed with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Early diagnosis and treatment can help keep the virus from causing more damage to your immune system and prevent dangerous infections. It is also important to know if you have HIV so that you do not infect your sexual partners.
The test to check for HIV is a blood test. The results take 1-2 weeks to come back. Typically, a “positive” test is repeated to make sure that a person really is infected with HIV. If you have an HIV test today, you should call the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Clinic at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in 2 weeks to discuss the results. The phone number is (757) 668-7238. Anyone with a positive test should be seen in the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Clinic for additional tests and treatment. Your test results will be confidential between you and your doctors.
Occasionally an HIV test may be negative very early after you are infected (in the first 2-8 weeks). If your test is negative but you are still concerned that you may have HIV, you should follow-up with your health care provider for additional tests.
This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.