What If Your Test Result Is Positive
Most HIV tests are antibody tests. If you use any type of antibody test and have a positive test result, you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results.
- If you had a rapid screening test at a community testing program or other location, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure your initial test result was correct.
- If you used a self-testing kit at home, you should go to a health care provider for a follow-up test. A positive HIV test result must always be confirmed by additional HIV testing performed in a health care setting.
- If you had a blood test in a health care setting or a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same blood sample as the first test.
If your follow-up test is also positive, it means you have HIV.
After you are diagnosed with HIV, your health care provider’s office or clinic will provide post-test counselling to help you understand the next steps, including the importance of starting HIV treatment as soon as possible. HIV treatment involves taking highly effective medicines that work to control the virus. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you dont have health insurance or you need help because your insurance doesnt pay for the treatment you need, there are state, federal, and private resources that may help you.
What Happens During An Hiv Test
You will either get a blood test in a lab, or do your own test at home.
For a blood test in a lab:
- A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For at home test, you will need to get a sample of saliva from your mouth or a drop of blood from your fingertip.
- The test kit will provide instructions on how to get your sample, package it, and send it to a lab.
- For a saliva test, you will use special spatula-like tool to take a swab from your mouth.
- For a fingertip antibody blood test, you will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood.
For more information on at-home testing, talk to your health care provider.
What Makes Someone Hiv
HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system, killing them and leaving the body defenseless against infection. It is transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
Once HIV enters the body, it introduces an antigen called p24. This is a viral protein that prompts the immune system to activate white blood cells. On alert that the virus is present, the immune system then starts producing antibodies, proteins that help fight off infection.
The presence of HIV antigens or antibodies in blood, saliva, or urine confirms that someone is HIV-positive. This is detected through an HIV test.
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What Happens When You Go For A Test
Normally, testing involves taking a small sample of blood from your finger or your arm, or an oral swab. This is where you rub the testing pen along your gums to collect cells from your mouth.
How long it takes for HIV test results to come back will depend on the type of test you are taking. If youre taking a rapid test, you will be given your results within 20 minutes. Other types of tests will be sent to a laboratory and it may take between a few days and a few weeks for you to receive a final result.
Tests these days are very reliable, but if your result comes back positive, you should have a second confirmatory test to double check your result. If this is also positive, you will get an HIV diagnosis, after which you can start treatment.
Remember, HIV treatment these days is very effective and people with HIV can live long and healthy lives just like anyone else.
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Hiv 1 And 2 Antibodies Test
The HIV 1 and 2 Antibodies test is used to detect the presence of HIV infection. The test can be performed post 3 to 12 weeks of exposure. In the test, a blood sample or an oral sample is collected. In case of oral sample testing, the result can be obtained within 20 minutes. This can be done at home as well. The test is suggested in cases where the individual has consumed drugs through un-sanitized syringe, or has had unprotected sex with unknown partner. Early testing in above cases can help control sexual activity and help long term survival.
The blood sample is to be taken from a visible vein near the elbow joint. So it is recommended to wear half sleeve shirt. Full sleeve shirt if could be rolled over would be fine too. Sample can also be obtained from the finger if the attendant feels so would be helpful In case oral sample is to be obtained, then avoid eating just before the test or rinsing the mouth is recommended.
The HIV 1 and 2 Antibody is used to test presence of HIV infection. The test is conducted after 3 to 12 weeks after suspected exposure to the HIV causing scenarios mentioned above. Early detection and diagnosis could help in controlling sexual activity. This also helps in monitoring the immune system functioning and can thereby help in long term survival is detected early. HIV 1 type infection is mainly detected in patients across the USA. However, HIV2 is mainly found in African countries.
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Will Other People Know Your Test Result
If you take an anonymous test, no one but you will know the result. If you take a confidential test, your test result will be part of your medical record, but it will still be protected by state and federal privacy laws. Most HIV testing is done confidentially.
- Anonymous testing means that nothing ties your test results to you. When you take an anonymous HIV test, you get a unique identifier that allows you to get your test results. Anonymous tests are not available at every place that provides HIV testing. You can purchase a self-test if you want to test anonymously.
- Confidential testing means that your name and other identifying information will be attached to your test results. The results will go in your medical record and may be shared with your health care providers and your health insurance company. Otherwise, the results are protected by state and federal privacy laws, and they can be released only with your permission.
With confidential testing, if you test positive for HIV, the test result and your name will be reported to the state or local health department to help public health officials get better estimates of the rates of HIV in the state. The state health department will then remove all personal information about you and share the remaining non-identifying information with CDC. CDC does not share this information with anyone else, including insurance companies.
Question 11 Why Does The Laboratory Require That A Blood Sample For Hiv Testing Be Collected In A Separate Tube
HIV screening tests are extremely sensitive and can detect very low levels of circulating viral antibodies and/or antigens in a patients sample. The laboratory requires a separate sample collection tube for HIV screening testing to help eliminate false-positive results that may be associated with pre-analytic sample handling during the performance of other requested tests. Minimizing pre-analytic sample handling issues is critical, given the clinical significance of a positive HIV test result.
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What Can Affect Your Test Results
HIV tests are highly sensitive and may result in a false positive. A follow-up test can determine whether a person truly has HIV. If the results from a second test are positive, a person is considered to be HIV-positive.
Its also possible to receive a false-negative result. This means the result is negative when in reality the virus is present. This generally happens if a person recently contracted HIV and gets tested during the window period. This is the time before the body has started producing HIV antibodies. These antibodies typically arent present until four to six weeks after exposure.
If a person receives a negative result but has reason to suspect that theyve contracted HIV, they should schedule a follow-up appointment in three months to repeat the test.
What Is It Used For
An HIV test is used to find out if you have been infected with HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . Most people with HIV dont have AIDS. People with AIDS have an extremely low number of immune cells and are at risk for life-threatening illnesses, including dangerous infections, a severe type of pneumonia, and certain cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.
If HIV is found early, you can get medicines to protect your immune system. HIV medicines may prevent you from getting AIDS.
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My Test Result Is Reactive Whats The Chance That This Is A False Positive
If you tested in a healthcare facility, the staff there should make sure you have the necessary follow-up tests. This sequence of confirmatory tests is carefully planned to prevent inaccurate results from being given. Healthcare professionals call it a testing algorithm. If you have been tested in this way, with a sequence of confirmatory tests, and you have been told that you are HIV positive, you can be confident of the result. The rest of the information on this page does not apply to you.
On the other hand, you might have been tested with a rapid, point-of-care test at a location where the staff could not do the confirmatory tests immediately. If your initial result was reactive, the staff may have asked you to come back on another day or to go to another healthcare facility for the follow-up testing. Or you might have taken the test yourself, using a device for self-testing or home testing.
“An HIV diagnosis is never made on the basis of a single test result.”
If that is the case, the confirmatory testing is essential. There is a possibility that your reactive result is in fact a false positive. The only way to know is to go and have it checked by a qualified healthcare professional.
A protein substance produced by the immune system in response to a foreign organism. Many diagnostic tests for HIV detect the presence of antibodies to HIV in blood.
To put this in individual terms:
What Do Test Results Mean
To understand what your test results mean, you first have to understand what kind of test is being used and what a “window period” is.
Most HIV screening tests look for HIV antigen or for HIV antibodies , or may look for both. Newer testing strategies use a combination antigen/antibody test. Some testing sites also use a test that looks for genetic material of the HIV virus.
The window period is the period between the time someone is first infected with the HIV virus and the time an HIV test can detect HIV infection. After someone has been infected with the virus it can take about 2 weeks for HIV antigen to be detectable with current antigen tests, and more than 3 weeks to produce enough HIV antibodies to be detected by antibody tests. In a very small number of people, the process takes up to several months.
During the window period, someone might be infected with HIV yet still have a negative result on an HIV test. Here’s how that can happen. Let’s say you have condomless sex on Saturday night and become infected with HIV. On Monday, you get an HIV test. The test almost certainly will come back negative, because there is not yet enough HIV antigen or HIV antibody for the tests to detect.
Newer methods of HIV testing are narrowing the time of the “window period” and reducing the chance of a falsely negative result.
When testing is completed, your provider will tell you the result. Possible results are:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Symptoms of the initial HIV infection can mimic those of influenza and other viral infections. The only reliable way to tell if someone is infected is to get tested. Many people with HIV do not experience symptoms for years after the initial infection or have symptoms that are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses. For more, see this CDC web page: HIV/AIDS Basics.
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What Happens If I Test Positive
If the result from an initial HIV test is positive, a healthcare professional will order follow-up testing to learn if the result is accurate.
If the first test was conducted at home, a healthcare professional will draw a sample of blood to test in a lab. If the first test was done in a lab, follow-up testing may be conducted on the same blood sample at the lab.
If the second test result is positive, a healthcare professional can help explain the treatment options for HIV. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve the long-term outlook and reduce the chances of developing complications from HIV.
Question 10 Is Pregnancy Associated With A Higher Frequency Of Biological False
There have been anecdotal reports of pregnancy being associated with a higher frequency of biological false-positive HIV screening test results. This anecdotal association may have been due to an initially greater frequency of testing of pregnant women prior to issuance of the 2006 CDC HIV testing recommendations. A more recent large epidemiologic study using a third-generation HIV screening method did not demonstrate a greater propensity toward biological false positivity in pregnant subjects. In this study of more than 2 million third-generation HIV antibody screening tests, the false-positive rate was actually lower for pregnant women than for others .8
What Causes False Positive Results
HIV tests are based on the detection of antibodies to HIV. These are proteins produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance, such as HIV. The main cause of false positive results is that the test has detected antibodies, but they are not antibodies to HIV they are antibodies to another substance or infection. Tests are not meant to react to other types of antibodies, but it sometimes happens.
There are other reasons why a test may give a false positive result. Depending on the testing device, reading the test result may rely on subjective interpretation. When the result is borderline, experienced staff give more consistently accurate results. A false positive result could also be the result of a sample being mislabelled, mixed up with another persons, or some other clerical or technical error.
Less commonly, false positive results may occur in people who have recently had a flu vaccine, are taking part in an HIV vaccine study, or have an autoimmune disease .
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Screening For Hiv In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll be offered a blood test to check if you have HIV as part of routine antenatal screening.
If untreated, HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Treatment in pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of passing HIV on to the baby.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
What Are False
A false-positive result happens when a person who doesnt have HIV receives a positive result after being tested for the virus.
This can happen if laboratory staff mislabel or improperly handle a test sample. It can also happen if someone misinterprets the results of a test. Taking part in a recent HIV vaccine study or living with certain medical conditions might also lead to a false-positive test result.
If the first HIV test result is positive, a healthcare professional will order follow-up testing. This will help them learn if the first result was accurate or a false positive.
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How Is It Used
HIV antibody and HIV antigen testing is used to screen for and diagnose HIV infections. Early detection and treatment of HIV infection and immune system monitoring can greatly improve long-term health and survival. Also, if a person knows his or her HIV status, it may help change behaviors that can put him or her and others at risk.
Different types of tests may be used for HIV screening:
There are a few different ways a person can get access to HIV screening: