Why We Started (TBT): HIV Testing
Why HIV Testing is Important
HIV Testing is critical to reducing its spread. The CDC recommends that all people ages 13-64 get tested at least once, and individuals deemed high risk should be tested more frequently. A positive test allows individuals to then seek treatment (there are several forms of effective treatment currently available) and prevent transmission to others.
How HIV Testing Works
There are a variety of different HIV tests available, and while all these tests are very accurate, none can detect the virus immediately after infection (due to the extremely small volume of viral material present in the beginning). These tests include Nucleic Acid Tests (NATs), antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
Nucleic Acid Test (NATs)
NATs test for actual virus present in the blood. These tests tend to be very expensive and are reserved for recent high-risk exposure or potential exposure and early symptoms of infection. NATs can detect HIV infection 10-30 days after infection.
Antigen/antibody tests detect both antigens (foreign substances that activate your body’s immune system) and antibodies (which are produced by your immune system when exposed to a virus). These tests can detect HIV infection 18-45 days (using a blood sample) or 18-90 days (using a finger prick) after infection.
Using a blood or oral fluid sample, these tests detect the presence of antibodies. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. These tests generally take 23-90 days to detect HIV after exposure.
Adult HIV Prevalence in Sub Saharan Africa
HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts Africans. Globally, Adult HIV Prevalence is 1.2% and just 0.6% in North America. In Sub Saharan Africa, that number is 9.0%, climbing as high as 20% in some areas. The AIDS epidemic is still very much alive in the “AIDS belt” of Africa, where the people there constitute less than 4% of the global population, but over half of HIV infections worldwide. A major contributor to these staggering numbers is the lack of accessible testing in Africa. Diagnostic testing infrastructure is lacking, test prices are high, and results can take months to come back.
Increasing HIV testing accessibility is critical to reducing its spread, especially in areas where HIV is rampant. That’s where Fluxergy comes in. President and co-founder Tej Patel and his wife, Priya, saw what was happening in Africa in terms of public health. They recognized the lack of testing infrastructure, high prices, long wait times, and saw not only a business opportunity, but also an opportunity to make a difference. Here at Fluxergy, our mission is to democratize healthcare through diagnostic testing. We seek to lower costs, reduce wait times, and make testing more accessible for everyone.