What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)? How to Use the HIV Rapid Test Kit?
One of the world’s most fatal infectious diseases, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), continues to be a major global public health issue. Despite the development of effective antiretroviral treatments, HIV/AIDS remains the second most fatal infectious disease and one of the major causes of death in the world. Although HIV/AIDS accounted for around 1.5% of all deaths in the world and less than 0.1% of deaths in Europe in 2019, it is the leading cause of death across Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS was responsible for a significant share of deaths in South Africa (28%), Botswana (27%), Mozambique (25%), Namibia, Namibia (20%), Zambia (18%), Kenya (17%), and Congo (12%) in 2019.
In fact, deaths linked to HIV/AIDS are more than 50% higher than deaths caused by heart disease and more than twice that caused by cancer across Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the 1990s saw a significant upsurge in HIV/AIDS cases and deaths, the development and availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and advancements in diagnostic technologies led to significant progress against the infection. Read along to learn more about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), its stages, transmission routes, symptoms, and detection via the HIV Rapid Test Kit.
What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?
Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus in the family Retroviridae. Similar to the other members of the Lentivirus genus, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are enveloped viruses containing two copies of positive-sense single-stranded RNA. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has two major subtypes. Among these, HIV-1 is the most common, widespread, and pathogenic strain of the virus. It causes more than 2 million infections each year. HIV-2, on the other hand, is less common and has yet to be recognized outside Africa.
Once it enters the human body, human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) attack the host’s immune system and destroy many vital cells such as T helper cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. CD4+ cells, which are a type of T helper cells with critical roles in the adaptive immune system, are the primary targets of human deficiency viruses (HIV). The host’s cell-mediated immunity is progressively impaired as the infection destroys these cells. When CD4+ and other cells drop to a critical level, the body becomes increasingly susceptible to opportunistic infections, leading to the development of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
What is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)?
If left untreated, HIV infections advance in stages, which include acute or primary HIV infection, chronic or secondary HIV infection, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The acute phase of the infection develops following the incubation period and presents with non-specific flu-like symptoms, which may last around four weeks. Then, as the immune system reduces the number of viral particles in the bloodstream, the infection proceeds to the secondary or chronic stage. This stage may last for up to ten years, and infected individuals may experience persistently swollen lymph nodes due to the large amounts of viral particles trapped in these tissues.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), on the other hand, is the last and most severe stage of HIV. It develops as the infection results in the progressive failure of the affected immune system, which ultimately leaves the body vulnerable to life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers. Patients are diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) when they develop opportunistic bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections along with certain cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and cervical cancer, and lymphoma or when their CD4+ cell counts drop below 200 cells per milliliter of blood. Without antiretroviral treatment, the average survival time following infection with HIV is estimated as 9 to 11 years.
How does Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) transmit?
Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) transmit only via certain body fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Since transmission of the virus requires these fluids to either come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or to be injected directly into the bloodstream, most people get infected through anal sex, vaginal sex, or sharing certain items such as needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment. However, HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Transmission through oral sex, blood transfusions, and tissue/organ transplants are rare. Since the virus does not survive long outside the human body, it does not spread through the air. Similarly, it cannot be transmitted by activities such as touching, hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes, and closed-mouth kissing or through saliva, tears, sweat, and insect bites.
What are the symptoms of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)?
Many people do not experience any symptoms throughout the first few months following infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Others may present with influenza-like symptoms such as fever, headache, rash, and sore throat. As the infection progresses, symptoms may become more severe, including swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea, and cough. Without antiretroviral treatment, the infection develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can present with a wide range of severe viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitical infections such as tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis, or certain cancer such as lymphomas, cervical cancer, and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
How to Use the HIV Rapid Test Kit?
HIV rapid test kits are rapid immunochromatographic assays for the detection of HIV-specific antigens and antibodies in human serum, plasma, and whole blood samples. Utilizing multiple sets of HIV-specific antigens and antibodies, assays such as our Anti-HIV (1/2) Rapid Test Kit and HIV Ag/Ab Combo Rapid Test Kit detect HIV infections in different stages with excellent sensitivity and deliver qualitative results in minutes. Multiplex assays, such as our HBsAg/Anti-HIV (1/2) Combo Rapid Test Kit and HBsAg/HCV/HIV/TP Rapid Test Kit, on the other hand, simultaneously detect and differentiate common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) alongside HIV.
All instructions concerning sample collection and procession are included in the manual within the test kit. The procedure begins with the collection of the required sample by venous phlebotomy procedure or the fingerstick method. Next, the collected sample is transferred into the included buffer as instructed, and the dropper head is attached. Then, the test cassette is removed from its package and placed on a flat surface. Finally, a few drops of the processed sample are added to the assigned well(s) on the test cassette. The results should be read within the period specified in the instructions manual, which is often 15 to 20 minutes.
Rossi, E., Meuser, M. E., Cunanan, C. J., & Cocklin, S. (2021). Structure, Function, and Interactions of the HIV-1 Capsid Protein. Life, 11(2), 100. https://doi.org/10.3390/life11020100
Sasadeusz, J., Locarnini, S., Kidd, M., Bradford, D., & Danta, M. (2008). HIV, HBV, HCV and STIs: similarities and differences. HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs, 9.