What Does A Negative Hiv Test Result Mean
A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have HIV. That’s because of the window periodthe time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it. The window period varies from person to person and is also different depending upon the type of HIV test.
Ask your health care provider about the window period for the kind of test youre taking. If youre using a home test, you can get that information from the materials included in the tests package. If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period for the test youre using to be sure. To learn more about the window period and when a person should get retested, see CDCs How soon after an exposure to HIV can an HIV test if I am infected?. If you get an HIV test within 3 months after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again in 3 more months to be sure.
If you learned you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, you can only be sure youre still negative if you havent had a potential HIV exposure since your last test. If youre sexually active, continue to take actions to prevent HIV, like using condoms the right way every time you have sex and taking medicines to prevent HIV if youre at high risk.
Should I Wait To Test For Hiv
If you have had unprotected sex, shared injecting equipment or think that you have been at risk some other way, then you should talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
They will be able to talk to you about your situation and help you decide what to do next. If you visit a healthcare professional within 72 hours of when you think you were exposed to HIV, you may be offered PEP . This is a course of emergency HIV treatment that can prevent HIV infection. It must be started within 72 hours and be taken properly.
Unfortunately, PEP isnt always available and healthcare providers may only give it to you if they feel youre at a high risk of HIV. If you take PEP youll need to test before and after to ensure it has worked.
If the time to take PEP has passed, then most modern HIV tests are now able to detect HIV from around four weeks after exposure. Depending on the type of test you are offered and when your risk was, your doctor may ask you to come back for further tests and a follow-up to check your results.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it is in this early stage of infection that you are most likely to pass HIV on to others. Be extra careful during this time use condoms and dont share injecting equipment.
Where Can I Get An Hiv Test
Depending on where you are in the world, there are a number of places that you can get tested for HIV. The best first step is to search online for “HIV testing, plus your location. This will generally give you a good idea of where to go, or at least give you a starting point.
If you have limited internet access, its always worth asking local sexual health charities or health professionals what is available in your area. They should be able to direct you to somewhere where you can test for free. The image below has some examples of the types of places that might offer HIV testing.
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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.
Hiv Testing Types And Lab Technologies
This chapter provides information regarding available testing technologies, approaches to testing and interpretation of results. There are many different types of HIV screening tests that are licensed for use in Canada and can vary by jurisdiction. For questions or information specific to your province or territory please contact your local Public Health laboratory.
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What Do The Test Results Mean
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.
Who Should Get Tested For Hiv
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 13 to 64 years of age get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. As a general rule, people at higher risk for HIV should get tested each year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from getting tested more often, such as every 3 to 6 months. If you are over 64 years of age and at risk, your health care provider may recommend HIV testing.
Factors that increase the risk of HIV include:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who is HIV positive or whose HIV status you do not know
- Injecting drugs and sharing needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with others
- Exchanging sex for money or drugs
- Having a sexually transmitted disease , such as syphilis
- Having sex with anyone who has any of the HIV risk factors listed above
Talk to your health care provider about your risk for HIV and how often you should get tested for HIV.
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Testing Recommendations And Requirements
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HIV screening in health-care settings for all adults, aged 13-64, and repeat screening at least annually for those at higher risk.26,27 Per the CDC individuals who may benefit from at least annual screening include:28
- sexually active gay or bisexual men
- individuals who have had sex with an HIV-positive partner
- individuals who have had more than one partner since their last HIV test
- those who have shared needles or works to inject drugs
- people who have exchanged sex for drugs or money
- individuals who have another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis, or tuberculosis
- those who have had sex with someone who has participated in any of the above activities or with someone with an unknown sexual history
Certain factors are known to reduce the risk of HIV transmission including condom use, antiretroviral treatment leading to durable viral load suppression among those with HIV, which prevents further transmission, and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis among those at increased risk for HIV.29
Additionally, HIV testing is recommended for all pregnant women and for any newborn whose mothers HIV status is unknown.30 Treatment provided to pregnant HIV-positive women and to their infants for 4-6 weeks after delivery can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to 1% or less.31 HIV testing is also recommended for anyone who has been sexually assaulted.
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How The Oraquick In
What is the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test and how does it work?
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test is a rapid self-administered over-the-counter test. The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test kit consists of a test stick to collect the specimen, a test tube to insert the test stick and complete the test, testing directions, two information booklets , a disposal bag and phone numbers for consumer support.
This approved test uses oral fluid to check for antibodies to HIV Type 1 and HIV Type 2, the viruses that cause AIDS. The kit is designed to allow you to take the HIV test anonymously and in private with the collection of an oral fluid sample by swabbing your upper and lower gums with the test device. After collecting the sample you insert the device into the kits vial which contains a developer solution, wait 20-40 minutes, and read the test result. A positive result with this test does not mean that an individual is definitely infected with HIV but rather that additional testing should be done in a medical setting to confirm the test result. Additionally, a negative test result does not mean that an individual is definitely not infected with HIV, particularly when exposure may have been within the previous three months. Again an individual should obtain a confirmatory test in a medical setting.
When should I take a test for HIV?
How reliable is the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test?
OraQuick In-Home HIV Test Fact Sheet
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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 Are The Advantages Of A Rapid Hiv Test
The rapid test allows for testing of more individuals. According to the CDC, 1.2 million Americans have HIV, but up to one in eight don’t know it. About 44,000 Americans per year become infected with HIV. This number has decreased recently due, in part, to more testing. Among those who get tested using traditional methods, 31% of those who test positive do not return for their results .
People give a variety of reasons for not returning for their test results. The frequency of each response depends on the population being tested. The most commonly given reasons include the following:
- Fear of a positive result
- Lack of transportation
- Relocating to a new city
- Belief that they are at low risk for HIV and therefore the result will be negative
- Fear that their HIV status will be disclosed to someone else
Significant benefits of the rapid HIV test include the following:
Once important difference between the conventional laboratory test and rapid tests is the ability to detect very early or acute HIV infection. This is done with the addition of an HIV RNA PCR or NAT test. HIV RNA appears in the blood within the first few days of infection. If the antibody test is negative but the NAT is positive, this may indicate that the patient is very newly infected. NAT testing is also used to confirm a positive result of the third- or fourth-generation test. Western Blot testing is no longer routinely used.
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Should You Consider Preventive Medication
How quickly a person is able to see a healthcare professional after exposure to HIV can significantly affect their chances of contracting the virus.
If you believe youve been exposed to HIV, or have a high risk of being exposed to HIV, visit a healthcare professional within 72 hours. You may be offered an antiretroviral treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis , which can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. PEP is typically taken once or twice daily for 28 days.
PEP has little or no effect if taken more than
How Soon Can Hiv Be Detected By A Blood Test
The window period refers to the time between when a person is first exposed to HIV and when it will show up on different types of HIV tests.
The window period can last anywhere from 10 days to 3 months, depending on your bodys immune response and the type of test that youre taking.
During the window period, a person may test HIV-negative even though theyve contracted HIV.
A person can still transmit HIV to others during this period. In fact, transmission may even be more likely because there are higher levels of the virus in a persons body during the window period.
Here is a quick breakdown of different types of HIV tests and the window period for each.
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Will My Partner Have The Same Results As Me
Dont assume that if you are positive, or negative, your partner will have the same result. It may be that your partner has a different test result to you. This is why its a good idea to encourage your partner to get tested too, whether your results are positive or negative. If youre worried about telling your partner that you are positive or asking them to take a test, speak to your healthcare advisor. They can often help you with ways to do this.
Why Is Viral Load Important
The viral load is a measure of how active HIV is in your blood. The virus kills white blood cells called CD4 cells, which are an important part of your immune system. When the viral load is high then the CD4 count goes down, the immune system weakens and you are more likely to become sick.
When you start anti-HIV treatment , the viral load test is used to measure how well your treatment is working. One of the goals of ART is to have an undetectable viral load, so the immune system can begin to repair itself. You should have a viral load test every three to six months. The test results are used to monitor how well your HIV treatment is working and whether you may need to change the drugs you are taking.
We now know that even low levels of HIV in the body can cause inflammation which can damage your body. It is recommended that people start treatment as early as possible after they have been diagnosed. This helps reduce the damage that can be caused by HIV-related inflammation.
We also know that people who are engaged in care, taking ART and have an ongoing undetectable viral load are substantially less likely to transmit HIV to others. In fact studies show that people with an undetectable viral load do not pass HIV to their sexual partners.
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When Should You Get Tested For Hiv After Condomless Sex
Keep in mind, if you believe youve been exposed to HIV, its important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Theres no HIV test that can accurately detect HIV in the body immediately after exposure. Theres a time frame known as the window period before you can be tested for HIV and receive accurate results.
Regardless of the type of test you take after a potential HIV exposure, you should get tested again after the window period has passed to be certain.
People at higher risk of contracting HIV should get regularly tested as often as every 3 months.
How Long Do Results Take
Rapid HIV tests can give results in 15 to 60 minutes, or on the same day.
Rapid refers to the time taken for the results and not to the time between exposure and the test.
If samples are being sent to another lab, results can take from a few days or a few weeks.
Rapid blood tests put a pin-prick of blood on a testing strip. This test takes about 15 to 20 minutes so you can get the results whilst you wait.
Some rapid tests also work on oral samples rather than blood. Although they are sometimes called saliva tests this is not accurate. Oral samples collect cells from the surface of the gums and not saliva. These cells contain HIV antibodies.
When samples are sent to a lab you can either collect your results in person or they will be posted out to you. It is your responsibility to get the results. A few clinics may give results over the phone.
Rapid tests involve a 3 month window. This means the results tells you your HIV status three months ago. A positive result from a rapid test always needs to be confirmed by a different laboratory test. If you have had other recent risks, a negative result needs to be confirmed in three months.
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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.