There are a number of reasons why ideal HIV screening guarantees the right consideration for individuals with HIV disease. Among these are the factors affecting viral load, which plays a crucial role in making treatment decisions. The ideal testing method should include a viral load test three to six months after the primary infection. The goal is to reach the patient’s viral load set point. Patients with undetectable viral loads should be referred to appropriate care for further evaluation.
The ideal screening process should be individualized for each patient. It should include testing for specific genes and proteins on the surface of the virus. It is important to note that detectable antibodies take three to eight weeks after infection, but may take longer. This period is referred to as the “window period.” In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first HIV diagnostic test, a rapid antigen-antibody test. In 2013, it was also the first screening test to distinguish between acute and established HIV-1 infections.
The ideal HIV screening program will provide the best care. For instance, a patient should be tested for their viral load at least once a year, but more often if there are symptoms. This is because a high viral load means a person has an HIV infection. People with high viral loads lose CD4 cells and become ill faster. Increasing viral loads are normal in people without HIV treatment. An increase in the viral load is usually nothing to worry about. In fact, a doubling of the viral load is not a cause for concern.