While it is a fact that the prevalence of HIV is higher in LGBT populations and among intravenous drug users, the virus does not discriminate and anyone practicing sex without protection can contract HIV.
Because the virus takes a varying amount of time to develop in different people, and can be asymptomatic for many months to many years, depending on the immune system of the carrier, many people are HIV-positive without even knowing it. According to hiv.org, around 15% of people in the USA who have HIV are undiagnosed.
Additionally, as early and consistent antiretroviral treatment can nowadays facilitate a near-to-normal life, preventing the infection from ever developing into AIDS, even many prominent people, who we would not expect to be HIV-positive, are carriers.
The bottom line is that no one is immune to HIV and anyone who has unprotected sex with more than one partner is at a certain level of risk of contracting the virus.
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An HIV antigen (also known as the p24 antigen) is a protein the virus introduces into the immune system of the infected person, triggering it to start making antibodies.
This structural protein makes up most of the HIV viral core, or 'capsid,' and its present in high levels in the blood serum of recently infected individuals during the short period between infection and seroconversion.
Certain tests can screen for HIV antigens and detect primary infection much more reliably than only tests that screen for antibodies.
An HIV antigen/antibody test (also known as a 4th generation HIV test) looks for HIV antibodies as well as the p24 antigen in the blood.
The p24 is a structural protein that makes up most of the HIV viral core, or 'capsid.' These proteins are present in high levels in the blood serum of recently infected individuals during the short period between infection and seroconversion. They trigger an immune response, which starts the production of antibodies.
Like most other tests, the antigen/antibody test also screens for antibodies. However, as antibody levels take much longer to become high enough for detection, the antigen screening component proves itself significantly more useful in diagnosing primary HIV infection.
While there are some rapid HIV antigen/antibody tests that use blood drawn from a finger, lab-based antigen/antibody tests, which take blood from a vein, will detect the presence of antigens in the blood earlier with more reliability.
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