The main advantage of early detection of HIV is stopping the progression of the disease. If you find out you have HIV, you can start on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) right away and with early treatment, you can stay healthy and live a long and quality life.
While ART is not a cure for HIV, this medicine can effectively slow down the progression of the disease. It works by lowering the amount of virus you have in your body to extremely low levels. In fact, you might not even have any detectable levels of the virus in your blood, which is called an undetectable viral load. With an undetectable viral load, you’ll stay much healthier and also have no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partners (Undetectable = Untransmitable).
Of course, the only way to detect HIV early on is to get tested regularly. Generally, you should get tested once a year, whenever you have a new partner, or if you think you could have been exposed to the virus. While most HIV tests won’t be able to show a positive result for about three weeks, if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, you can protect yourself right away by taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). When you use this medicine within 72 hours of potentially being infected, you can greatly lower your chances of actually developing HIV.
Additionally, when you find out you have HIV early on, you can protect your partner from getting it as well by having them start on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). If your partner takes this before you have sex, there is a 99% chance they will stay negative for HIV. And with your undetectable viral load from ART, you and your partner can have a healthy sex life without fear of HIV and AIDS.