HIV is an immune system virus that weakens the body’s natural defense against even common illnesses, says Marla Ahlgrimm. The virus destroys good cells and replaces them with copies of itself, eventually rendering the immune system virtually worthless. Untreated, HIV will develop into AIDS, its most progressive stage, within 10 to 15 years.
Thankfully, advancements in medical technology in the form of anti-retroviral treatments are now available. People suffering with HIV can live relatively normal and healthy lives and delay onset of AIDS. As reported by Marla Ahlgrimm, the earlier a person is treated, the better chance they have of a positive long-term prognosis.
As a retired women’s healthcare advocate and industry entrepreneur, Marla Ahlgrimm asserts that HIV testing is important for all women over the age of 15. Women who are pregnant should consider HIV testing early on so that she and her healthcare provider can monitor possible complications during each trimester.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, don’t hesitate to get tested. Keep in mind, however, that traditional tests may not pick up an early infection since specific antibodies have yet to develop. It usually takes between three and 12 weeks for antibodies to colonize in quantities enough to register a positive test. Many physicians now offer an early, but considerably more expensive, test that searches for specific viral markers in the blood. This may or may not be available through all healthcare providers.
Many health clinics provide HIV testing for free or low-cost based on your income. Likewise, many insurance providers offer free testing under guidelines set forth by the Affordable Care Act. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that pregnant women utilizing Medicare may be eligible for up to three HIV tests throughout the duration of the pregnancy.