How Are Results Reported
Your test centre should clearly explain the results of your test.
If you have questions that were not explained, or that still worry you, ask the test centre first.
Rapid blood tests show two lines if positive or one line if negative, in a similar way as a pregnancy test .
Results from laboratory tests are given as negative, positive or indeterminate.
Negative or non-reactive means you are HIV negative. You do not have HIV .
Positive or reactive means the test shows you are HIV positive and you have HIV infection.
Indeterminate means the test result was unclear and needs to be repeated.
Getting A Result Quickly
Many services offer rapid testing, which means a finger-prick test that will give you a result within minutes.
A self testing kit ordered online and done at home will normally give you a result up to 15 minutes, depending on the kit.
A blood sample taken at a testing centre will be sent to a lab, with results ready within a day or up to a week later.
If you use postal testing, the lab will normally contact you a week or so later with your result.
What Is Acute Hiv Infection
There are three stages of HIV infection:
- Stage 1:Acute HIVinfection
- Stage 2:Chronic HIV infection
- Stage 3:AIDS
Acute HIV infection is the first stage of the infection. Usually within two to four weeks of infection, two-thirds of those with HIV will experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms may last for several days or even weeks. However, some people may experience no symptoms at all.
In this stage, there is a large amount of HIV in your blood, which is known as the viral load. Studies have noted incredibly high viral loads during the acute stage, meaning you are more contagious at this time.
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The Accuracy Of Different Rapid Tests
A wide range of point-of-care tests have been manufactured in many countries, but only a few of them have been subject to rigorous, independent evaluations, and even fewer are marketed in the UK. Research on HIV tests is only occasionally published in medical journals. Informally, laboratory professionals may have insights into which tests perform best.
It is important to verify that any test used is CE marked. This should mean that the test conforms to European health and safety legislation, although it does not necessarily mean that test performance has been independently evaluated.
There are variations in accuracy from one test to another, with some older tests that are not usually marketed in the UK having a sub-optimal sensitivity and specificity. However, evaluations by the World Health Organization of several rapid diagnostic tests that either have CE marks or are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration , indicate that most are extremely accurate. The key measures of accuracy are sensitivity and specificity .
Of note, in the World Health Organization data below, the tests were performed with samples of plasma or serum. However, the tests are less sensitive when testing whole blood sampled from a finger prick. Moreover, the blood was taken from people who had chronic HIV infection, but the tests are less accurate in cases of recent infection.
“All HIV tests need to have reactive results confirmed with further tests.”
Reducing Hiv Risks From Chemsex And Drug Use
- Inject drugs.
- Forget to take your HIV medications.
- Are taking PreP it can be less effective if it is mixed with other drugs.
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How Does The Test Work
Better2Knows instant HIV test uses your blood sample to detect the p24 antigen and the HIV 1 and HIV 2 antibodies. If either of these are found by the test, it will show a reactive result.
If your test is negative for either the p24 antigen or HIV antibodies there will only be one line, in the control section of the test strip.
If you are reactive for the p24 antigen or HIV I/II antibodies, there will be two lines. A red line will appear in the relevant sections on the test strip, as well as the control line. We will then do confirmatory testing at our CPA accredited laboratory at no further cost to you.
When You Should Take An Hiv Test
What testing service you should use, and which type of test, depends on when you might have been exposed to HIV. Signs of HIV infection dont show up in the blood right away. It normally happens within four weeks of infection, but can be longer.
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours , its possible to take post-exposure prophylaxis to help stop an infection from happening.
If your risk was recent, then your test provider will probably advise you to take a test immediately, followed by a second one a few weeks later. The second test will pick up any infection the first one may have missed.
If your risk was in the last three months, make sure you tell the person testing you, as it may affect the type of test youre given.
A self test is not guaranteed to pick up an infection thats occurred in the previous three months. If you think youve been exposed in the last three months, you should get a test in person.
Very occasionally it can take up to three months for antibodies to appear in the blood, so an HIV negative result is only totally accurate if three months have passed between the test and the last time a risk was taken. However, a negative result four to eight weeks after taking a risk is a very good sign that HIV infection hasnt happened.
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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 Long Does It Take Before The Hiv Infection Will Show Up In My Blood Sample
Our tests cant detect HIV immediately after infection. In fact, it can take four to 12 weeks before it becomes detectable, depending on the type of HIV test taken. This period is called the window period. If you are tested for HIV during the window period , we may ask you to re-test after the window period.
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How Will I Know What Std Tests I Need
Your nurse or doctor will help you figure out which tests you need. Youll talk about:
Any symptoms youre having
If you or your partner has ever had an STD before
The number of people youve had sex with
The kind of sexual contact youve had like oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or anything that involves skin-to-skin genital contact or passing sexual fluids
How often you use protection, like condoms and dental dams
Other things you do that increase your chances of getting certain infections
This will help your nurse or doctor figure out which STD tests make the most sense for you. Make sure youre open and honest with them, so you can get the care you need. Try not to feel embarrassed: Your doctor is there to help you, not to judge you.
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.
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Reducing The Risk Of Hiv Transmission
The most effective way to prevent HIV transmission during sex is to use a condom. Get a condom ready before any sexual contact occurs, since HIV can be transmitted through pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid, and from the anus.
Lubricants can also help reduce the risk of HIV transmission by helping prevent anal or vaginal tears. The right lubricants also help prevent condoms from breaking.
Only water-based lubricants should be used with condoms. Oil-based lube can weaken latex and sometimes cause condoms to break.
The use of a dental dam, a small plastic or latex sheet that prevents direct contact between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex, is also effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
For people who may have a higher risk of contracting HIV, preventive medication is an option. Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication is a daily antiretroviral treatment.
Everyone at high risk of HIV should begin a PrEP regimen, according to a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Per the recommendation, sexually active people are considered at high risk of HIV if they have one of the following characteristics:
- in a sexual relationship with someone who is living with HIV
- inconsistent condom use during sex with a partner whose HIV status is not known and who may be at high risk
- having a sexually transmitted infection , such as syphilis or gonorrhea within the past 6 months
- for men, inconsistent condom use during anal sex
Common Blood Tests And How Long It Takes To Get Results
Some of the more common blood tests a doctor may order include:
- Complete blood count .This test measures the presence of 10 cell types in the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Examples of these results include hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and white blood cell count. CBC results are usually available to your doctor within 24 hours.
- Basic metabolic panel.This test measures common electrolytes in the blood as well as other compounds. Examples include calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. You may be asked to fast for a certain period of time before having your blood drawn. These results are also typically sent to your doctor within 24 hours.
- Complete metabolic panel. This blood test measures all the factors mentioned in the test above as well as two protein tests, albumin and total protein, as well as four tests of liver function. These include ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin. A doctor may order this more comprehensive testing if they wish to understand more about your liver or kidney function. Theyll usually receive your results within one to three days.
- Lipid panel. Lipid panels measure the amount of cholesterol in the body. This includes high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein . Your doctor should receive results from the lab within 24 hours.
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How Do You Get Hiv
HIV infection can occur in the following ways:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse, especially receptive anal intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases: Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections increase the HIV transmission risk by three times syphilis raises the transmission risk by seven times and genital herpes raises the infection risk by 25 times during an outbreak
- Sharing IV needles or injections
- Receiving HIV infected blood products
- Needle-stick injuries
- Maternal HIV infection : The risk of transmission can be reduced at birth by practices like cesarean delivery and prenatal antiretroviral therapy in the mother, and antiretroviral therapy in the newborn immediately after birth
How Long Does It Take To See The Signs Of Hiv
The signs and symptoms of HIV may first appear within two to four weeks of infection. The stage in which the symptoms appear is called the stage of acute HIV infection. The symptoms appear due to the resistance or fight of the immune system against HIV. In the initial stage, the virus multiplies rapidly and spreads throughout the body. It targets and destroys the CD4 cells . As a result, the level of HIV in the blood and the chances of transmission at this stage are very high. It is crucial to recognize the early signs and seek medical help, since early diagnosis and treatment of HIV gets the best results.
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Situations In Which Rapid Tests May Not Be Accurate
Performance of rapid tests is poorer in a number of situations. Results may not be accurate.
- In cases of recent HIV infection, during the tests window period.
- In people with diagnosed HIV who are taking HIV treatment. These tests are not a reliable way to confirm that you still have HIV infection.
- In people who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis . If you acquire HIV, you may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
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.
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can An Hiv Test Detect If You Are Infected
No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, in the last 72 hours, talk to your health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis , right away.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.
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.
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If You Have A Negative Test Result Does That Mean That Your Partner Is Hiv
No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status.
HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time you have sex. Therefore, taking an HIV test is not a way to find out if your partner is infected.
It’s important to be open with your partner and ask them to tell you their HIV status. But keep in mind that your partner may not know or may be wrong about their status, and some may not tell you if they have HIV even if they know they’re infected. Consider getting tested together so you can both know your HIV status and take steps to keep yourselves healthy.
Should I Wait To Take An Hiv Test
If you think youve been exposed to HIV, seek medical advice as soon as you can. The doctor or nurse you speak to will be able to advise you about when and how to get tested, so it wont have to be a decision you make on your own.
In some cases, it might be appropriate to get tested more than once. You may be advised to take an early test, and then a second test over 45 days later after the potential exposure.
An early test may show a positive or a negative result, and require confirmation from a second.
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How Soon Will Get The Result
Some types of HIV test give a result very quickly. Services that offer rapid testing will take a blood sample using a finger-prick test this will give a result within minutes. The same goes for self-testing kits. With other types of test that require the sample to be sent to a lab, the results may take a few days.
How Much Do Hiv Tests Cost
Unlike rapid tests, blood tests for HIV are covered by Medicare, which means your doctor can order the test free of charge for you.
If you are not eligible for Medicare, you may also be able to claim some of the testing costs through private health insurance. Check with your provider to see if youre eligible.
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How Often Should You Test For Hiv
Testing at least once a year for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is good sexual health practice for everyone who is sexually active, even if you know you havent put yourself at risk of infection. Depending on how many different sexual partners you have in any one year, you might want to consider testing more regularly.
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men should get tested routinely for HIV and other STIs – at least annually or every three months if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.
Black African men and women should have a regular HIV and STI screen if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.