What We Know About The Types Of Hiv Tests
HIV tests are very accurate, but no HIV test can detect HIV immediately after a person gets the virus. Some kinds of tests detect HIV sooner than others. In general, nucleic acid tests can detect HIV the soonest, followed by antigen/antibody tests, and then antibody tests.
Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. Your immune system makes antibodies when youre exposed to bacteria or viruses like HIV. Antibody tests look for these antibodies in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV slightly sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
More Information With a rapid antibody screening test, results are ready in 30 minutes or less.
A self-test is an antibody test you can buy at a pharmacy or online. There is currently one available FDA-approved self-test, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test.
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test gives fast results at home. You have to swab your mouth to get an oral fluid sample and use a kit to test it. Results are ready in 20 minutes. If the test says you have HIV, you should go to a health care provider to get follow-up testing. The manufacturer provides confidential counseling and refers you to follow-up testing sites.
Get Tested Regularly If You Are At Greater Risk Of Hiv
If you are at greater risk of HIV get tested regularly.
Gay, bisexual, trans and other men who have sex with men should get tested every 3 months . This may vary depending on how many sexual partners you have during the year.
Talk with your doctor or sexual health specialist for advice. They can also provide information about how to reduce your risk for HIV and other STIs.
Types Of Hiv Screening Tests
- Combination HIV antibody and antigen test this is the recommended screening test for HIV. It is available only as a blood test. Antigen/antibody combination tests pair an IgM/IgG-sensitive antibody test with simultaneous, separate p24 antigen detection. Antigen/antibody test detects the HIV antigen called p24 plus antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2. The level of p24 antigen and the amount of virus increase significantly soon after initial infection. Testing for p24 allows for detection of early infections, before HIV antibody is produced. About 2-8 weeks after exposure, antibodies to HIV are produced in response to the infection and remain detectable in the blood thereafter, making the antibody test useful for detecting infections weeks after exposure. By detecting both antibody and antigen, the combination test increases the likelihood that an infection is detected soon after exposure. In the lab, antigen from the patient specimen is first captured by immobilized, anti-p24 antibody on the solid phase of the assay, and then a separate, labeled anti-p24 antibody is applied, forming an antibody sandwich. Some of these p24/IgM/IgG-sensitive tests report a reactive result if any element is detected, whereas others yield separate results for p24, antiHIV-1 antibodies, and antiHIV-2 antibodies. Detecting p24 shortens the median window period down to just 18 days after infection 17).
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Hiv And Your Complete Blood Count
In addition to these tests, others will be performed to monitor for side effects or medical issues arising from the infection itself. Central to this is a panel of tests called the complete blood count . The test measures the composition of cells in a sample of blood to flag for changes that fall outside of the “normal” range of values.
A CBC measures constituent cells in your blood, including white blood cells , red blood cells , and platelets . The test is typically ordered every three to six months but may be ordered more frequently if there is an active infection or illness.
What Does A Positive Result Mean
A follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are living with HIV .
If you had a rapid screening test, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure the screening test result was correct. If your blood was tested in a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same sample.
It is important that you start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy or ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. ART works by lowering the amount of virus in your body to very low levels, called viral suppression. It slows the progression of HIV and helps protect your immune system. If you are on ART and virally suppressed, you can stay healthy for many years, and greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you dont have health insurance, or youre unable to afford your co-pay or co-insurance amount, you may be eligible for government programs that can help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. Your health care provider or local public health department can tell you where to get HIV treatment.
To lower your risk of transmitting HIV:
If I test positive for HIV, does that mean I have AIDS?
Family and friends
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Where Can People Find Free Hiv Testing Locations
The CDC maintains a list of HIV testing locations for people who want to find out whether they have contracted the virus. This National HIV and STD Testing Resource can be accessed at . This site includes the ability to search for free testing locations as well as locations that provide rapid tests. Some clinics only provide HIV testing. However, sexually transmitted diseases clinics routinely provide HIV testing along with testing for diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes.
Who Should Get Tested
The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information to help you take steps to keep you and your partner healthy. About 1 in 8 people in the United States who have HIV do not know they have it.
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Lab Tests And Why They Are Important
As part of your HIV care, your provider will order several laboratory tests. The results of these lab tests, along with your physical exam and other information you provide, will help you and your provider work together to develop the best plan to manage your HIV care so that you can get the virus under control, protect your health, and reduce the chance that you will pass the virus to others.
Your healthcare provider will repeat some of these tests as part of your ongoing HIV care to continue to assess your health and how well your HIV treatment is working.
The lab tests may include:
- CD4 Percentage: This measures how many of your white blood cells are actually CD4 cells. This measurement is more stable than CD4 counts over a long period of time, but, for most people, the CD4 count remains a more reliable measure of how well your immune system is working than the CD4 percentage.Why its important: This measurement is less likely to vary in between blood tests than CD4 counts .
- Complete Blood Count : This is a measure of the concentration of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in a sample of your blood.Why its important: A CBC is one of the most commonly ordered blood tests. It can reveal infections, anemia , and other medical issues.
How Is The Test Used
HIV tests are used to screen for and diagnose HIV infections.
Different types of tests may be used for HIV screening:
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No Hiv Test Can Identify The Virus Immediately
As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, no HIV test can identify the virus immediately after infection. Further, the term ‘window period’ is used for the interval between an individual getting infected and a test that identifies the virus presence. The window time differs from person to person and is determined by which type of HIV test is carried out.
A nucleic acid test can typically provide information on exposure to HIV after 10 to 33 days. HIV infection may generally be detected 18 to 45 days after exposure using an antigen/antibody test. Antibody tests might take anywhere between 23 and 90 days to identify HIV infection.
Why Its Important To Test
If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Once youre on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable then you canât pass the virus on to anyone else.
If you wait to test, the virus could do a lot of damage. There is a lot of support available for people who test positive.
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Hiv Is Detected With A Blood Test
Blood tests are the most common and reliable tests for HIV. The virus is detected by taking a sample of your blood either with a conventional blood test or a rapid test .There is a short period of time between exposure to HIV and the ability for tests to detect HIV or its antibodies. This is often referred to as the ‘window period’ between 2 and 12 weeks.
Most tests used in Australia can detect HIV as early as 2 to 4 weeks after infection.
If your blood test shows that HIV or its antibodies are present, you are HIV-positive.
If you have no antibodies in your blood you are HIV-negative. Sometimes negative results might also mean you are in the window period, so you might need a follow-up blood test to make sure.
Does An Antibody Screen Test For Hiv
Antibody tests can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after an exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
Subsequently, one may also ask, are HIV antibodies always detectable?
An HIV antibody response can be detected as early as two weeks in a few people and in more than 99.9% of people by 12 weeks. An antibody test at 4 weeks will detect 95% of infections.
Secondly, can blood test detect HIV? HIV is usually diagnosed by testing your blood or a sample of cells taken with a swab from inside your cheek for the presence of antibodies to the virus. HIV tests vary in how soon they are able to detect infection. The time between when you get the virus and when it can be detected is called the window period.
what is antibody test for HIV?
The HIV test is designed to detect antibodies to HIV in your blood or saliva. Antibodies are proteins produced by your body when you have an infection and they help fight infection. If you are infected with HIV, your body makes very specific antibodies to fight the infection.
Can one test negative when on ARVs?
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When To Get Tested
Seek medical advice immediately if you think there’s a chance you could have HIV. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment and avoid becoming seriously ill.
Some HIV tests may need to be repeated 1-3 months after exposure to HIV infection, but you should not wait this long to seek help.
A GP or a sexual health professional can talk to you about having a test and discuss whether you should take emergency HIV medicine.
Anti-HIV medicine called post-exposure prophylaxis may stop you becoming infected if taken within 72 hours of being exposed to the virus.
Should I Tell Anyone Else Of My Test Results
Yes. If you test positive for HIV infection, it is important that you tell your healthcare practitioners as well as all current and future sex partners and/or anyone with whom you share needles. Counseling services are often available from the clinic that performed the test or from your healthcare provider that will help you to inform the people who need to know.
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How Do The Tests Work
Most HIV tests use a blood sample, either from a blood draw or finger prick. Others use saliva , but this is a little less accurate than blood tests.
Some HIV tests look for the virus itself. But most look for the antibodies for HIV. Antibodies are part of the immune system and fight infections. When someone is infected with HIV, the body creates antibodies to fight HIV.
Testing results may be available that day or can take longer come back.
What Happens If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your initial test is positive for HIV antibodies, then additional testing is required to confirm that the first one was accurate. Sometimes this involves a second blood test.
When you are first diagnosed you will probably experience strong emotions. During this time, do not try to cope on your own. Seek support by speaking with your doctor, or contact your local community organisation. They have trained peer workers available to help you through the initial stages of a positive diagnosis, but also through your journey of living well with HIV.
Part of testing best practice includes pre- and post-test counselling. Post-test counselling is important, regardless of the outcome. If you test positive, counselling can provide emotional support, further information about living with HIV, and referrals to support services.
If the test is negative, counselling can provide education about HIV and how to reduce your HIV risk in the future. are community organisations that provide support and advocacy for people with HIV. Peer workers are also available to help you navigate living with HIV.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, visit Next Steps for more information.
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How Often Should I Get Routine Blood Work
Your doctor will typically recommend that you get routine blood work at least once a year, around the same time as your yearly physical.
But this is the bare minimum. There are several major reasons you may want to get blood tests more often than that:
- Youre experiencing unusual, persistent symptoms. These could include anything from fatigue to abnormal weight gain to new pain.
- You want to optimize your health. Knowing levels of various blood components, such as HDL and LDL cholesterol, can allow you to tweak your diet or fitness plan to minimize unhealthy habits . This can also maximize the nutrients you put in your body and more.
- You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Regular blood tests can catch the warning signs of almost any disease early. Many heart, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed using blood tests.
Talk to your doctor first if you want to get certain tests more often than once a year.
Some other tests that you may want include:
- enzyme markers if youre at risk for cancer or other conditions like liver cirrhosis, stroke, or celiac disease
Where Can I Get Tested For Hiv
Your health care provider can give you an HIV test. HIV testing is also available at many hospitals, medical clinics, substance use programs, and community health centers. Use this CDC testing locator to find an HIV testing location near you.
You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
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