How Do I Know If I Have HIV? And What To Do Next? – A Clinical Advice for Malaysians

HIV test clinic Malaysia

Here are some HIV statistics to ponder on.

An average of eight people contract Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) a day in the country.

In 2022, a total of 60% of HIV infections were due to sexual relations. Those between the ages of 20 and 39 make up the highest number with 77% and over 90% being males and 97%, were infected through sexual transmission.

On average, a total of 3,000 new HIV cases are reported annually and this is a threat to Malaysia’s ability to achieve its commitment to ending HIV/AIDs by 2030.

These are worrying numbers and steps have been taken by the Ministry of Health to increase awareness on preventing the spread of the virus among youths.

This includes educating youths to avoid high-risk activities, periodic screening in HIV test clinics in Malaysia and early antiretroviral treatment (ART) if infected.


What are the 5 common symptoms of HIV?

      • Fever

    Fever is usually one of the first symptoms of HIV. When you have a fever your body temperature increases above a normal range, and often results in sweating, chills and shivering. Fever is often accompanied by other mild symptoms, such as fatigue, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat.


        • An unexplained rash 

      Skin rashes can occur early or late during HIV seroconversion and can last between two and three weeks. The rash may start as feeling non-itchy, but in some cases, can appear similar to boils with itchy, pink breakouts.


          • Swollen lymph nodes

        Lymph nodes are part of your body’s immune system and protect your blood by getting rid of bacteria and viruses. They tend to get inflamed when there’s an infection. Many of them are located in your armpit, groin and neck which can result in aches and pains in these areas.


            • Drenching night sweats

          Night sweats are repeated episodes of extreme sweating, causing bedding and any nightclothes to become soaked. Many people will get night sweats during the early stages of HIV. 


              • Unexplained weight loss of 10% or more

            Flu-like symptoms and digestive distress can result in weight loss for many in early HIV onset.


            Why test for HIV?

            Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. It’s normal to feel worried about HIV, but testing for HIV can put your mind at ease and reduce the anxiety of not knowing.

            It’s best to do a test with a HIV test clinic in Malaysia because a medical professional will do the test to ensure accuracy.


            How accurate is the HIV rapid test?

            HIV testing has improved dramatically since the first generation of tests came out in the 1980s. Then, patients exposed to the virus had to wait months for markers to reach detectable levels.

            Subsequent test generations have reduced the detection window considerably and sped up results. Fourth-generation HIV tests have a detection window of just 2 to 4 weeks.

            Listed below are the various types of HIV tests and their predicted accuracy so you can decide which is best for you.


            HIV RNA Test (NAT Test)

            The HIV RNA test provides accurate results 10 days after exposure, allowing you to receive diagnosis and treatment sooner. The accuracy for this test, which is solely based on rapid results, is 98.2% accurate.


            HIV Antigen / Antibody Test

            This test looks for HIV antigens and antibodies. HIV produces an antigen called p24, which blood tests can detect before antibodies to the virus develop.

            A person’s immune system will also produce antibodies when they experience exposure to viruses such as HIV.

            The test usually involves a healthcare professional drawing blood from a vein and sending it into the lab. 

            A rapid antigen/antibody test (4th generation rapid test) is also available and consists of a healthcare professional performing a finger prick test. Results are 95% accurate after 28 days of exposure and 99% after 90 days of exposure.


            HIV Antibody Test

            This test looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood or oral fluid. Tests that use blood from a vein can generally detect the virus faster than tests involving a finger prick or oral fluid.

            This test has an accuracy of 95% after 90 days and 99% after 180 days of exposure. If you are unsure where to go for these tests, type in HIV testing near me on any platform and it will direct you to an HIV test clinic in Malaysia.


            Prevention is better than cure  

            This is a frequently used sentence in medicine and more so for HIV. You’ve likely heard about both PrEP and PEP for HIV prevention. 

            These treatments are proven effective in preventing HIV transmission, but with one very important distinction: one is for pre-exposure, while the other is for post-exposure to HIV.


            PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. This medication is designed to help prevent individuals from getting HIV if they take it before being exposed.

            PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis.  PEP medication helps to treat patients who have been exposed to HIV and it’s important to note that patients who think they have been exposed to HIV have a 72-hour window from the time of exposure to take PEP for the treatment to be effective.

            PrEP and PEP are available in most men’s health clinics in Malaysia or HIV test clinics in Malaysia


            What if I test positive for HIV?

            After testing positive for HIV, a healthcare provider will conduct a review of the person’s health and medical history, a physical exam, and several lab tests.

            People with HIV should start taking HIV medication as soon as possible after their HIV is diagnosed. Treatment with HIV medication (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) is recommended to help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

            If treatment is delayed, HIV will continue to harm the immune system. Delaying treatment will also put a person at higher risk for multiple infections, transmitting HIV to their partners and developing AIDS.


            HIV does not discriminate

            Lots of people feel scared and embarrassed to test for HIV. Others think it’s too time consuming or it’s a waste of money.

            It’s important to remember that HIV doesn’t discriminate — it can affect anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, race or gender.

            Don’t let an undiagnosed virus cause you harm. Don’t wait until you’re sick. Don’t let fear or shame hold you back.

            Visit Universal Clinic for fast 4th generation antigen /antibody test. Your results will be known in 15 minutes. We also have an anonymous HIV test; you do not need to give us your personal details.

            You come in, we give you a form with an index number and you see the doctor for the test. It’s as easy as that. Quick, discreet, hassle-free.

            So, go ahead and make that appointment and if you need help with understanding your options, know that Universal Clinic is here for you — get in touch with us any time by clicking this link.

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