Saturday, June 15, 2024

Can You Test For Hiv

What About False Results

How to Get Tested for HIV – Episode 4

Some HIV tests have a very slight chance of giving you false results. A âfalse-positiveâ result means your test shows you have HIV when you donât. Tests may also give you a âfalse-negativeâ result. That means the test says you donât have HIV, but you do.

The rapid oral fluid test is more likely to give you a false-positive result than other tests. If you take a rapid oral test and get a positive result, the doctor will give you a blood test to confirm your diagnosis.

The HIV RNA or viral load test is not generally used to diagnose HIV. If you have this test done and get a positive result, the doctor may start you on HIV treatment, but you should always take an antibody test a few months later to confirm your diagnosis.

If you test positive: These tests are all screening tests for HIV. That means that if you take an HIV test and get a positive or even an unclear result, youâll need another blood test to confirm that you do or donât have the virus. The results of both tests together are more than 99% accurate. The tests used to confirm HIV infection are either the Western blot or indirect fluorescent antibody test. If your screening test went to a laboratory, they can do this additional testing on the same blood sample. But if you were tested in a community clinic or at home, youâll need to give an additional blood sample for follow-up.

What Happens If The Result Is Positive

The process can vary across the country but, generally speaking, when a test reveals that the individual is;HIV positive, the post-test counselling is extensive . Typically, a provider gives a person time to absorb the results, discusses the impact of the positive test result, and provides the opportunity for the person to ask questions. Post-test counselling following a positive diagnosis usually includes support and extensive discussion and comprehensive linkage to other services, including HIV care.

If a rapid point-of-care test indicates a;reactive;result, the person is informed of the result and, after obtaining informed consent, the counsellor draws a blood sample, which is sent to a laboratory for confirmatory testing. The person is given post-test counselling immediately after receiving a reactive result and again when returning to pick up the result of the confirmatory test one to two weeks later.

The Healthcare Worker There To Help You

Before you test, your healthcare worker will talk to you about your sexual health and why youve decided to test. This is to help them understand your situation so they can offer you the best services and advice.

Remember, the healthcare professional is not there to judge you. There will be nothing you can say that they havent heard before so be honest with them, and ask as many questions as you want. Thats what theyre there for.

You should never feel pressured to test. The results will be completely confidential but you should only go through with it if you want to.

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Whats Next If The Test Is Negative

If a person gets a negative test result and its been more than 3 months since they may have been exposed, they can be fairly certain that they do not have HIV.

If its been less than 3 months since exposure, they should consider taking another HIV test at the end of the 3-month period to be sure. During that time, its best that they use condoms during sex and avoid sharing needles.

How Soon Can I Take An Hiv Test

Who Should Get Tested?

This question usually refers to how soon after exposure can someone test for HIV.;

This used to involve waiting 3 to 4 weeks before taking an HIV test .

However, 2020 UK guidelines now recommend waiting 6 weeks.

This is because 4th generation HIV tests will detect 99% of infections at 6 weeks compared to 95% of infections 4 weeks after exposure.

A negative test after four weeks needs to be confirmed with a second test three months after the risk. This is to cover the small chance that you take longer than four weeks to generate an antibody response.

Extending this to 6 weeks means the confirmatory test is no longer needed.

In high risk exposures, especially if symptoms occur, viral load testing is sometimes used after one week.;This includes after a sexual assault or after a needlestick injury to a healthcare worker.

In these cases a viral load test can exclude an infection when there are symptoms.

Viral load tests are not approved to diagnose HIV. A negative result still needs to be confirmed by an antibody test three months after the risk.

Figure 6: Recommended time from exposure to HIV test *

* This diagram needs to be updated to show the six-week window.

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When Is Best To Start Treatment

It is always best to start treatment as soon as possible. Diagnosing HIV early on prevents the progression of the virus so your immune system is protected and this means you are highly unlikely to develop AIDS .;Late diagnoses, which are almost 50% of all new UK diagnoses, impacts your life experience and likelihood of staying well and healthy.

HIV is known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which basically means that the virus attacks your immune system, lowering your immunity to other infections.

If you are a person living with HIV, antiretroviral treatments are now so effective, that if they are taken correctly the HIV virus can be supressed to undetectable levels .;

The ARTs stop the virus from reproducing and that means your immune system can repair itself and isnt further damaged. This means that you can live an active and healthy life and have a normal life expectancy.

Catie Resources For Service Providers


  • Public Health Agency of Canada.;HIV Screening and Testing Guide. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2013. Available from:;
  • British Columbia Office of Provincial Health. HIV Testing Guidelines for the Province of British Columbia. 2014. Available from:
  • Government of Saskatchewan. 2014. Saskatchewan HIV Testing Policy. Available from:
  • AIDS Bureau, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. 2008. Guidelines for HIV Testing and Counselling. Available from:
  • Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec. 2019. Guide québécois de dépistage des infections transmissibles sexuellement et par le sang. . Available from;:
  • Public Health Agency of Canada.;Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections. Ottawa, ON: Public Health Agency of Canada; Accessed June 2021. Available from:;
  • Harrigan M.

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    Should You Get Tested For Hiv If You Dont Think Youre At High Risk

    Some people who test positive for HIV were not aware of their risk. That’s why CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors should get tested more often .

    Even if you are in a monogamous relationship , you should find out for sure whether you or your partner has HIV.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv

    Project Protect: How Soon Can I Get a HIV Test?

    Most symptoms of HIV go unrecognised. 4-6 weeks after the initial exposure to HIV, about 90% of people can experience one or more symptoms of infection which can include flu-like symptoms such as a headache, fever, sore throat, fatigue, chest rash etc. This is when your antibodies start to kick-in and be produced. Following this, the infection remains asymptomatic until your immune system becomes so damaged it can no longer fight off common infections and cancers, which is why late diagnosis is so common.; ;

    The power to test and know your status is in your hands.;

    ;;your BioSURE HIV Self Test.

    #KnowYourStatus #BeSureBeBioSure

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    What Information Is Collected When Someone Gets An Hiv Test From A Healthcare Provider Or Community Worker

    Non-identifying information collected when a person has an HIV test may include age, sex, city of residence, name of the diagnosing healthcare provider, country of birth, ethnicity, and information detailing the HIV-related risk factors of the person being tested.

    Whether the name of the person being tested is collected is determined by the testing option:;nominal , non-nominal , or;anonymous testing. Nominal and non-nominal testing are widely available in Canada. Anonymous HIV testing is available in some, but not all, provinces.

    Nominal testing

    Nominal testing, or name-based testing, is available across Canada and often takes place within clinics, offices of healthcare providers and hospitals. When a person has a nominal HIV test, the HIV test is ordered using the persons name. If the test is positive, the result is reported to public health authorities using the persons name and the test result is also recorded in the healthcare record of the person being tested.

    Non-nominal testing

    Non-nominal, or non-identifying testing, is also available across Canada and often takes place within clinics and offices of healthcare providers. If a person has a non-nominal HIV test, the HIV test is ordered using a code or the persons initials or an alias , not their full or partial name. If the test is positive, the result is reported to public health using the persons name in most provinces. The test result is also recorded in the healthcare record of the person being tested.

    Can I Take The Test At Home

    At-home HIV tests are a convenient way to take an HIV test in a private location. Testing for HIV at home is a form of HIV screening that requires additional follow-up if preliminary results are positive. At-home HIV tests can be obtained online, at a pharmacy, or at health departments and community-based organizations.

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    Things To Expect From An Hiv Home

    HIV home-testing kits are available in a growing number of countries. They offer you the convenience of taking an HIV test in your own time and in the privacy of your own home but are they for everyone?

    Stigma around HIV, concerns about the attitudes of health workers and worries about what a positive result would mean are all barriers to us taking a test. But knowing your HIV status is the best way to keep yourself and other people healthy.

    So the privacy and control that home testing can provide should mean its a more attractive option for some people. Here are some questions to think about when deciding if a home test is for you.

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    Challenges In Hiv Testing

    HIV testing resources

    4.3.1 HIV Testing in the “window period”

    The window period is the time after acquisition of HIV infection when the individual is highly infectious but tests negative on HIV antibody screening because antibodies are not immediately produced. As shown in Figure 4, the timelines associated with the window period have changed with the evolution of more sensitive antibody screening tests. While 1st generation tests detected HIV antibody an average of 60 days following exposure the 4th generation combination tests permit detection of acute HIV infection during the viremic phase. This reduces the window period to approximately 15 to 20 days. Making the diagnosis as early as possible can help prevent onward transmission of the virus, since the person is most infectious during this period. Some jurisdictions provide NAAT testing for high-risk clients , in an effort to identify very early HIV infection.

    4.3.2 Indeterminate results during the window period

    4.3.3 Confirmatory Testing

    The Western Blot assay is not as sensitive as the 3rd and 4th generation screening tests and may yield indeterminate results during the window period. New algorithms employing NAAT as a confirmatory test are currently being evaluated.

    Figure 5: Antigen/Antibody detection periods

    Figure 5 is a detailed diagram showing the days elapsed, from zero to 360, since the start of HIV infection. The diagram is divided into a sliding scale of four time periods:

    4.3.4 Genetic diversity of HIV

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    How Can Someone Get An Hiv Test From A Healthcare Provider Or Community Worker

    People can either voluntarily request an HIV test or they may be offered a test by a healthcare provider without asking for it . Provider-initiated testing can happen in a variety of routine care settings, such as pre-natal care, hospitals and doctors offices. In the case of an offer of a test, there are two approaches:

    • Opt-in testing: a person is offered an HIV test and must actively accept testing before the test can occur.
    • Opt-out testing: a person is notified that HIV testing is a part of normal care for everyone but they can decline. If they do not decline, consent to testing is assumed.

    Many provinces and territories use both voluntary and provider-initiated approaches, varying the strategy based on the setting and population being served.

    What Are The Risks Of Getting Tested

    If your test shows that you have HIV, your sex partner will need to know and get tested, which may affect your relationship.

    If you have HIV, provincial law requires your doctor or the place where you had the test to report it to the provincial health authority. Some provinces allow anonymous reporting . Other provinces require confidential reporting .

    With an ELISA test, you could have a false-positive test result, which shows that you have the disease when you actually don’t. This could cause you unneeded worry until you have more tests to confirm that you don’t have the disease.

    Your doctor may want you to be tested if:

    • You’re sexually active.
    • You have never had an HIV test.
    • You have a high risk for getting HIV.
    • You’re pregnant.

    What are the risks and side effects?

    • You have a blood or saliva test or some other test.
    • You may have a follow-up test to confirm the results of a positive test or to check again if you have a negative result.
    • If the test shows that you have an infection, you can take steps to avoid spreading the disease to others.
    • You can tell others so they can decide whether to be tested.
    • If you’re pregnant, you can start treatment to avoid spreading the infection to your newborn.
    • A test could find an infection early so you can start treatment and prevent or delay an HIV infection from progressing to AIDS.
    • Getting tested may give you peace of mind.

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    What Matters Most To You

    Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

    Reasons to get tested for HIV

    Reasons not to get tested for HIV

    I’m in a high-risk group for getting HIV.

    I don’t think I have a high risk of getting HIV.

    I’m worried that I could have been exposed to HIV.

    I have no reason to think that I might have been exposed to HIV.

    I’m worried that if I have HIV and don’t find out early, I won’t start treatment soon enough.

    I don’t believe that I need treatment for HIV.

    I want to be sure that I’m not spreading HIV to anyone.

    I don’t think there’s any chance I could be spreading HIV to anyone.

    I’m not worried that I could have a false-positive or false-negative test result.

    I am worried about have a false-positive or false-negative test result.

    I feel I could tell my sex partner that I’m going to have a test.

    I’m worried that if I tell my sex partner I’m going to have a test, it would affect our relationship.

    What Do The Test Results Mean

    Real Question: How Long Does it Take to Test Positive for HIV?

    There are three possible test results:

    1) Negative . The test did not find any evidence of HIV infection. You probably dont have HIV .

    2) Reactive . The test assay has reacted to a substance in your blood. This does not necessarily mean that you are HIV positive. It means you need to take more tests to confirm the result. These extra tests are best done at a healthcare facility where they have access to the most accurate HIV testing technologies.

    3) Indeterminate, equivocal or invalid. The test result is unclear. Another test needs to be done.

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    How An Hiv Test Works

    An HIV test is a blood test. It does not detect HIV itself, but looks for a protein found in an HIV cell, or an antibody made by the body to fight HIV.

    HIV tests in the UK are very reliable. They can occasionally produce a positive result which is then found to be negative when tested again. This is called a false positive and is rare, occurring in less than 1;in 1000 cases.

    Testing Positive On Hiv Antibody Tests

    Since the early days of the HIV epidemic, we have used antibody tests to test for HIV. Antibody tests are the most affordable and accessible HIV tests. They are the most common types of HIV tests at testing sites around the world because they provide rapid, on-the-spot results.

    Antibody tests do not detect HIV. Instead, they detect antibodies that the immune system produces in response to HIV infection.

    Want to know more about different types of HIV tests, how they work and how early they detect HIV? Check out thiseasy-to-read guide from Avert orread this Q&A by the CDC.


    Our immune systems develop antibodies in response to all kinds of pathogens. Anytime you get sick or get any kind of infection, your body builds up a defense system and creates antibodies to try and fight that specific infection off. If these antibodies are successful, some infections will go away but the antibodies never do. They will remain in your body, helping to protect you from getting the same infection in the future.

    In this way, antibodies allow our bodies to remember a specific infectious agentlike a particular strain of the fluand then respond to it more quickly if exposed to it again in the future. Once we develop antibodies to a virus we may have those antibodies for life or for many years.



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