If you have had a sexual encounter with an unknown person or without protection and now are worried if you may have contracted the virus, then the best way to lessen your fears is by consulting a doctor and taking an HIV test. Now, are you worried about what will be the cost of taking an HIV test?
Worry not in this article we have stated all the types of HIV tests you can take, a description about them and the cost of each one. This will help you forecast how much you may have to spend on testing. So let’s have a look at them –
What is an HIV test?
HIV test is a test used to check if your body contains any human immunodeficiency virus(HIV); this is the virus that is responsible for causing the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The HIV is usually spread from sexual contact with a person who has the virus. If you think that you may have HIV, then before taking the test, remember that there is a window period. The window period is the time between when the virus enters your body and when your body starts showing symptoms.
This window period is different for all individuals ranging from one month to 6 months in some. In the window period, the antibody tests will not be able to detect the presence of an HIV virus, but you can still transmit the virus. So if you know that you might have contracted the virus, consult a doctor immediately and get to know about the further processes involved. During this time, abstain from any sexual activities or blood donation as these may transmit the virus further.
What is the Cost of an HIV test?
The cost of taking an HIV test can be between 500 to 7000 rupees based on the type of test you choose. So to get a precise idea of the cost you might incur, let’s look at the types of HIV tests-
CD4 count test
When you contract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus will start attacking your immunity cells. These cells are known as cd4 cells or t cells; these are the white blood cells that fight any infection in your body and help protect your body from foreign viruses, and hence play an essential role in forming your immune system.
A healthy person’s CD4 count can vary between 500- 1000 and sometimes even more than that. So when a person contracts the virus, his CD4 count will lower to 200 or below. So if a person is suspected of having contracted the virus, his CD4 count is checked even if he is currently not showing any symptoms of AIDS.
The cost of undergoing the cd4 tests will be between 800 to 2500 rupees based on the hospital you choose; government hospitals may offer it for cheaper while private hospitals may give it for a more costly amount.
Rapid tests or point of care tests are the fastest way to check if you have HIV; this test produces results in about twenty minutes or, in some cases, even less time. The rapid test is an immunoassay that helps in the screening of the virus.
The rapid tests work by taking your oral fluids or blood samples and checking the count of HIV antibodies in them. When conducted during the window period of the virus, this test may not find the required antibodies and hence will show a false negative report. Remember, this test is used just for screening. If you get a positive result, you will have to undergo other tests to confirm the infection.
This test is readily available in the market and is priced at an affordable price ranging between 50 – 100 rupees. You can purchase a rapid testing kit on your own from a pharmacy.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA is a set of blood tests that are performed to check for the presence of HIV infection in your body. It is commonly used to detect the presence of antibodies in your blood. Your blood is drawn using a needle for this test to be performed. There are majorly four types of ELISA that are performed they are –
1. Direct ELISA
A direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is a plate-based assay that is used for the detection and quantification of a specific type of antibody form within a complex biological sample.
2. Indirect ELISA
Indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is a two-step process of ELISA. There is the involvement of two binding processes of a primary antibody and a labeled enzyme-linked secondary antibody that is complementary to the primary antibody. In this, the primary antibody is incubated with the antigen and then followed by the incubation with the secondary antibody.
3. Sandwich ELISA
The sandwich Enzyme-linked immunosorbent Assay uses two antibodies – a capture antibody and a detection antibody. This test is known as sandwich ELISA because your antigen is sandwiched between the two antibodies. The pairs of antibodies that are used have to be paired and tested before they are used. It is essential for the capture antibody and the detection antibody to not interfere in each other’s binding capability. The capture antibody is immobilized on the surface while the detection antibody is applied as the final step before quantitation.
4. Competitive ELISA
Competitive Enzyme-linked immunosorbent Assay is the technique used to estimate the presence of antibodies in a specimen such as a serum. Two specific antibodies, one of which is conjugated with an enzyme and another present in the test serum, are used for this test. A competitive ELISA detects and quantifies the antibodies.
If you get a positive result while undergoing an ELISA screening, it will not necessarily mean that you have the virus; this is because the ELISA test may give false results if you have conditions such as Lyme disease, syphilis, or lupus. This test is treated as a screening test, and based on this test’s results, further testing is carried out.
The cost of an ELISA test is based on the hospital from which you get it done; it can range approximately between 300- 3000 rupees, going lower in government hospitals and higher in private ones.
The western blot test is used to detect specific protein molecules from a mixture of proteins which can include all the proteins associated with a particular tissue or cell type. If you get a positive result on the ELISA test, then you will have to undergo the western BLOT test to confirm if you have the virus or not.
Based on the region where your hospital is situated and the type of hospital, you will have to pay between 1000- 3000 rupees for a western blot test. Remember this test is performed after the previous screening tests; hence you will have to account for both tests while planning your expenses.
HIV RNA Tests
When your blood has HIV, it can be identified by looking at the RNA. This can be done because HIV has a different RNA than the human RNA. Using the RNA test, the doctor can estimate the amount of HIV circulating in the bloodstreams.
This uses a type of tesst known as PCR 9 polymerase chain reaction). If you are an HIV-positive mother, this test will be used to screen the newborn baby. These tests help detect the virus in the first four weeks after exposure hence taking speedy action.
The cost of taking an HIV RNA test can range between 2000 to 4000 rupees.
HIV Antibody-Antigen (Ab-Ag) test
This test is used to detect the HIV-1 or HIV-2 virus and the protein known as p24, which forms the core of HIV. Most tests check for HIV by looking for antibodies, but the formation of antibodies may take weeks to form after the initial infection, even when the virus is present in the blood. The antibody-antigen test helps detect the virus early.
This test can cost between 1000-3000 rupees based on the hospital and the region.
Q. What are the ways a person can contract HIV?
HIV spreads from person to person by coming in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. Some ways by which the HIV infection can travel from an infected person to a healthy one are – through blood transfusions, due to sexual relations, sharing of infected needles, from a mother to child, etc.
Q. Is there a cure for AIDS?
No, Currently, there is no cure for aids, but it can be controlled by using medications to help the person stay alive.
Q. Is HIV/AIDS testing free in India?
The Government of India provides HIV/AIDS testing and treatment completely free of cost. (Read More Here About Free HIV Testing & Treatment)
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Going through the dilemma of suspecting if you have HIV or not is already very traumatizing; now add to it the confusion of how much you will have to pay. We have helped make this easier for you by listing down the various types of tests you can take to confirm if you have an HIV infection and their costs. This will help you forecast how much you may have to shell out fr the testing.
Tell us in the comments which point you found most helpful.