Types Of Hiv Tests And Their Window Periods
- Nucleic Acid Test A NAT can usually tell you if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure
- Antigen/Antibody TestAn antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antigen/antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick take longer to detect HIV .
- Antibody TestAn antibody test 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 detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid.
Ask your health care provider or test counselor about the window period for the test youre taking and whether you will need a follow-up test to confirm the results. If youre using a self-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. Remember, you can only be sure you are HIV-negative if:.
- Your most recent test is after the window period
- You havent had a potential HIV exposure during the window period. If you do have an exposure, then you will need to be retested.
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.
Hiv Tests Used In British Columbia
These tests measure antibodies to HIV. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system when the body is exposed to an infection. It takes time for the body to make antibodies after it is exposed to HIV, and different people make antibodies at different rates.
The window period for antibody tests is between 3 weeks and 3 months. Up to 95% of people will have antibodies after 6 weeks, and 99% of people will have antibodies after 3 months.
The point-of-care HIV test is an antibody tests offered in some locations in BC. The HIV Confirmatory Assay is an antibody test used to confirm a preliminary positive HIV result.
The 4th generation Enzyme Immunoassay Test test is a combined antigen / antibody test. The antigen, or viral protein, used to detect HIV is called p24 antigen. This p24 antigen shows up in the blood soon after a person gets HIV.
The 4th generation EIA test is the standard HIV laboratory screening test used in BC. Ninety-nine percent of these tests will be positive 6 weeks after a person gets HIV.
This test looks for the genetic material of HIV in the blood. It is also known as the early HIV test or RNA test. Ninety percent of NAATs are positive 10 to 12 days after a person gets HIV, and over 99% are positive after 6 weeks.
The RNA NAAT can be specially ordered by doctors or nurses if someone has had a recent high-risk exposure to HIV and/or they are having symptoms that are highly indicative of HIV.
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If You Think Youve Been Exposed
Occupational HIV exposure is rare but should be managed immediately as an urgent medical concern. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, follow these recommended steps:
What Do The Results Mean
A negative test result means that no signs of an HIV infection were found in your sample. But that doesn’t always mean that you don’t have HIV. You could have an HIV infection, but it’s too soon for the test to tell and you made need another test later. Your provider or an HIV counselor can explain your test result and let you know if you need another test.
In general, if you have a negative result on a rapid test or an at-home test and a possible HIV exposure that was:
- 90 days ago or longer, you can be confident that you don’t have HIV
- Less than 90 days ago, you will likely need another test later to check for HIV again
A positive test result means that signs of an HIV infection were found in your sample. You will need a follow-up test to confirm an HIV diagnosis unless you had a NAT test.
- If you used an at-home test, see your provider for follow-up testing.
- If you had your test at medical office or community program, the testing site will arrange your follow-up test.
If your follow-up test is also positive, it means you have HIV. It’s important to start medicines called antiretroviral therapy right away, even if you’re still healthy. ART can’t cure HIV, but it may lower the amount of virus in your blood so much that a test can’t find it. If you’re living with HIV, it’s important to see your provider regularly for tests to check how your treatment is working.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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When To Test For Hiv
HIV testing should be part of your regular health routine if you are having sex or sharing needles to inject drugs.
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, see a healthcare professional right away to get tested and talk through whatâs next. Donât wait for symptoms to appear â not everyone has them.
Even if you donât think you have been at risk, testing regularly is good practice for people who are having sex.
How Well Does Pep Work
PEP is effective in preventing HIV infection when its taken correctly, but its not 100% effective. The sooner you start PEP after a possible HIV exposure, the better.
While taking PEP, its important to use other HIV prevention methods, such as using condoms the right way, every time you have sex and using only new, sterile needles and works when injecting drugs
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Hiv Testing In A Health Care Setting Or Lab
If you take a test in a health care setting or a lab, a health care provider or lab technician will take your sample . If its a rapid test, you may be able to wait for the results, but if its a laboratory test, it can take several days for your results to be available. Your health care provider or counselor may talk with you about your risk factors, answer any questions you might have, and discuss next steps with you, especially if your result is positive.
- If the test comes back negative, and you havent had an exposure during the window period for the test you took, you can be confident you dont have HIV.
- If your HIV test result is positive, the lab will conduct follow-up testing, usually on the same sample as the first.
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Where Can I Get Tested
- You can order a STI testing kit online which includes an HIV test.
- Our community Sexual Health team offer a Rapid HIV test in some community venues.
- In one of our clinics. Please see our clinic finder.
- As part of a National HIV self-sampling initiative, you can order a free online test kit.
If you are concerned about HIV testing and want to speak to someone confidentially you can speak to one of your team on 0300 300 2016 or email our community Sexual Health team on
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What Does It Mean If Hiv Viral Load Is Undetectable
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the right HIV treatment can help to increase CD4 count and at times an undetectable viral load.
Viral load is the term used to describe the levels of the virus in the body. When treatment is taken correctly, viral load can become so low that its referred to as undetectable. While this does not mean that HIV has been cured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does mean that there is no longer a risk of passing the virus on to a partner during sex.
Its important to remember that many people with HIV infection may experience little to no symptoms – making it easy for the virus to go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Early detection of HIV and the correct HIV treatment and medication is key to going on to live a healthy life, which is why regular screening of your sexual health is crucial. Testing can be done with your local healthcare provider or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home STI Tests detect some of the most common sexually transmitted infections. The blood test for HIV involves a simple finger-prick sample and online results will be available within 2-5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available throughout the process to provide medical advice, support, and guidance.
You consider taking a test if:
Can Hiv Be Prevented
There is currently no vaccine to protect you against HIV, but avoiding high-risk activities such as having unprotected sex and sharing needles for injecting drugs can help to prevent its spread.
While there is no vaccine, the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that individuals without HIV infection but at high risk for it consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis , a daily pill to help prevent infection. For people taking PrEP consistently, the risk of HIV infection was significantly lower compared to those who didnt take it.
If you have HIV, early diagnosis of your infection is important to prevent its transmission to others and to allow evaluation, monitoring, and treatment. Healthcare workers can protect themselves from HIV infection by following universal precautions, such as wearing gloves and avoiding needle sticks.
Post-exposure prophylaxis is another strategy for preventing HIV. PEP is taking antiretroviral medication after recent possible exposure to the virus. PEP should only be used in emergency situations and must be taken within 72 hours of possible HIV exposure. Talk to your healthcare practitioner or emergency department doctor about PEP right away if you:
- Think you have may been exposed through sex
- Think you were exposed through sharing needles or other works for injecting drugs
- Were sexually assaulted
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Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your immune system strong. A heart-healthy diet can help prevent some of the problems, such as high cholesterol, that can be caused by treatment for HIV.footnote 24
- Learn how to deal with the weight loss that HIV infection can cause.
- Learn how to handle food properly to avoid getting a foodborne illness. For more information, see the topic Foodborne Illness and Safe Food Handling.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve the quality of your life. Take steps to help prevent HIV-related fatigue.
- Dont smoke. People with HIV are more likely to have a heart attack or get lung cancer.footnote 25, footnote 26 Cigarette smoking can raise these risks even more.
- Dont use illegal drugs. And limit your use of alcohol.
What Is Hiv Testing
Several types of tests check your blood or other body fluids to see whether youre infected. Most cant spot HIV right away, because it takes time for your body to make antibodies or for enough of the virus to grow inside you.
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Understanding The Hiv Window Period
What is the HIV window period?
The window period for an HIV test refers to the time between HIV exposure and when a test can detect HIV in your body. The window period depends on the type of HIV test used.
What is the window period for the HIV test I took?
- Antibody tests can usually detect HIV 23 to 90 days after exposure. Most rapid tests and self-tests are antibody tests.
- A rapid antigen/antibody test done with blood from a finger stick can usually detect HIV 18 to 90 days after exposure.
- An antigen/antibody lab test using blood from a vein can usually detect HIV 18 to 45 days after exposure.
- A nucleic acid test can usually detect HIV 10 to 33 days after exposure.
Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
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What Does A Negative Hiv Test Result Mean
A negative result doesnt necessarily mean that you dont have HIV. Thats 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.
What Does Hiv Do To A Person
HIV infects white blood cells of your immune system called CD4 cells, or helper T cells. It destroys CD4 cells, causing your white blood cell count to drop. This leaves you with an immune system that cant fight off infections, even those that wouldnt normally make you sick.
HIV initially makes you feel sick with flu-like symptoms. Then it can hide in your body for a long time without causing noticeable symptoms. During that time, it slowly destroys your T-cells. When your T-cells get very low or you begin to get certain illnesses that people with healthy immune systems dont get, HIV has progressed to AIDS.
AIDS can cause rapid weight loss, extreme tiredness, mouth or genital ulcers, fevers, night sweats and skin discolorations. Other illnesses and cancers often happen in people living with AIDS and can cause additional symptoms.
Whats a retrovirus?
A retrovirus is a virus that works backward from the way human cells do. Human cells have instructions that send a message to make building blocks for your body .
Retroviruses have their instructions written on RNA. When a retrovirus invades your cells, it changes its RNA to look like your cells instructions . Then it cuts your cells DNA and inserts its instructions into them. Your cell then acts as though the virus instructions are its own.
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How Long Do You Have To Wait After Unprotected Sex To Take An Hiv Test
By | Oct. 14, 2010, 11:04 a.m.
how long does it take after u have unprotected sex for u to get tested for hiv? can u get tested right away and know the results? or do u have to wait a certain amount of time.
HIV tests detect antibodies the immune systems response to infection. For the majority of people, HIV testing will be accurate at four to six weeks after possible infection. However, for some people it may take longer up to three months for detectable antibodies to develop. This is called the window period. During the window period, HIV tests can come back negative even though the person has the virus. HIV can be passed to other people during the window period. To make an appointment for HIV testing, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center. Tests are also available from most health care providers, hospitals, and health centers. Local, state, and federal health departments may offer free testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists HIV testing locations and offers information about home testing. The site can also be accessed in Spanish.
Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. is a registered 501 nonprofit under EIN 13-1644147. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.