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AIDS Tests

AIDS tests are now made simple, easy and are available right from the privacy of your own home. AIDS and HIV are still misunderstood by a majority of people who do not understand the severity of the epidemic, the nature of the disease, it's mode of transmission, and the overall care of people infected with AIDS or HIV. 

Infection in the female population is on the rise. It is recognized as being one of the leading causes of death in male adults 25 to 44 years of age and is the fourth leading cause of death in woman. In 1992, more than 50% of the AIDS reported cases were among men with homosexual and bisexual contacts. This percentage has been declining over the past two years. The impact on mortality has been noticed in larger metropolitan areas. However it is also moving towards smaller areas across America and the rest of the world. All types of people can be infected. It is no longer affecting just one specific portion of the population. Despite the diligent work of researchers, there is still no cure for HIV. We hope that the following information will provide you with a better awareness of this deadly epidemic.


AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome


Means you are not born with it but you can get it if you get involved in any of the risky behaviors associated with this disease. Usually, other immunodeficiencies are genetic, meaning you have no control over them. If you have the defective gene, you are born with it. The only way you can be born with AIDS is if your mother had AIDS when she was pregnant with you.


The disease is characterized by a weak or ineffective immune system that can't fight off infections. As a result, people with AIDS get infections that donít normally affect healthy people.


AIDS is a combination of signs and symptoms occurring together. These symptoms can be directly due to the HIV infection but are more likely caused by the many other infections that accumulate as a result of the immunodeficiency.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus that causes AIDS:

  • HIV infects the cells (T Lymphocytes) of the immune system making it easier to get infections.
  • HIV lives in the body's fluids. It has been collected from fluids such as blood, sexual fluids (semen and vaginal fluids), saliva, tears, and breast milk. However, only blood and sexual fluids have been observed to transmit HIV.
  • People can be infected with HIV and NOT look sick or even have AIDS. Subsequently, you cannot tell who has HIV and who doesn't. Unfortunately, these people can still transmit HIV by any of the usual methods of transmission.

Here are the methods by which HIV has been observed to be transmitted:

  • Homosexual men having sex without protection
  • Needle sharing by drug abusers
  • Heterosexual sex without protection
  • Blood Transfusions
  • Mother to child transmission
  • Hospital workers through needle sticks

NO-RISK ACTIVITIES: The following DO NOT transmit HIV

  • Touching an HIV infected person
  • Kissing without exchange of saliva
  • Embracing or cuddling
  • Sharing utensils
  • Donating blood when sterile needles are used
  • From objects such as toilet seats, door knobs, or clothes

Here are some situations that should be treated with caution:

  • You are a male homosexual and are going to engage in unprotected sex
  • You are on a date and come home with your partner to engage in unprotected sex
  • You have been going out with someone but don't know their sexual or medical history
  • You and your partner are going to engage in unprotected sex
  • Your partner does not have multiple partners, but is an IV drug user
  • Your partner has multiple partners and is an IV drug user

Stages of HIV Infection

The Acute HIV Syndrome

  • You first get seroconversion
  • The virus then rapidly spreads to the organs and especially the lymphoid tissues therefore, enlarged lymph nodes).
  • However, the HIV virus is down regulated (it is not very aggressive in causing the any diseases or severe symptoms)

    Asymptomatic State

  • The infection is latent.
  • The lymph nodes harbor the virus and let it grow and multiply.

    Symptomatic Disease/AIDS

  • Viremia: Spread of virus in the blood.
  • Loss of the immune system, especially due to the infection of the CD4+ T-Lymphocytes.

    Endstage Disease

  • The immune system collapses
  • Although the death is due to AIDS, it is usually an opportunistic infection that is the real cause of death.

Markers of HIV Disease

  • CD4: This is not a specific marker for HIV disease.  However, the counts are used to indicate possibility of opportunistic infections and the type of treatment that should be used.
  • CD4 < 500/mm3 - Antiviral therapy is usually started
  • CD4 < 200/mm3 - Prophylaxis treatment against Pneumocystis Carinii (PCP) infection is started.
  • CD4 < 100/mm3 - possibility of opportunistic infections such as: MAC, toxoplasmosis, CMV. Prophylaxis treatment for these is considered.

    P24 Antigen

  • This antigen is present in early and late infection.

    Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

  • Can do this test for HIV-RNA

    Branch-Chain DNA (b-DNA)

The Life Cycle of the HIV Virus

  • First, HIV binds to gp120 & CD4 receptor on the surface of the T-Lymphocyte
  • Then, it fuses with the membrane of the cell and "uncoats" itself.
  • It is then reversed transcribed by the reverse transcriptase enzyme (RT). Thus, the RNA molecule is made into a DNA molecule.
  • This is a reverse situation because usually, it is the other way in all other cells (DNA---> RNA)
  • After transcription of the virus, there are now components available for the assembly of several new viruses. Release of the virus occurs from the cell and the cell is destroyed.



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