What Is It Used For
An HIV test is used to find out if you have been infected with HIV. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . Most people with HIV don’t have AIDS. People with AIDS have an extremely low number of immune cells and are at risk for life-threatening illnesses, including dangerous infections, a severe type of pneumonia, and certain cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma.
If HIV is found early, you can get medicines to protect your immune system. HIV medicines may prevent you from getting AIDS.
What About False Results
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.
Who Should Get An Hiv Test
The CDC recommends that everyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once.
You should be tested more often — at least once a year — if youâre at higher risk of getting HIV, including if you:
- Have had several sexual partners
- Had unprotected sex with someone who is or could be HIV-positive, including someone whose sexual history you don’t know
- Injected drugs with a needle, syringe, or other device that someone else used first
- Have had or are getting tested for tuberculosis, hepatitis, or any sexually transmitted disease, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes
- Have had sex for drugs or money
- Had sex with someone who has a history of any of these
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What Are The Different Types Of Hiv Testing
There are three main types of HIV tests: antibody tests, RNA tests, and a combination test that detects both antibodies and viral protein called p24 . All tests are designed to detect HIV-1, which is the type of HIV in the United States. Some antibody tests and the combination test can also detect HIV-2 infections, which are usually limited to West Africa. No test is perfect tests may be falsely positive or falsely negative or impossible to interpret .
Positive test results are reportable to the health department in all 50 states and include the patient’s name. This information is then reported to the CDC so that the epidemiology and infection spread rates can be monitored. The names sent to the state remain confidential and will not be reported to employers, family members, or other such people. Some states allow anonymous testing in which the patient’s name is not recorded.
HIV antibody tests: HIV possesses many unique proteins on its surface and inside the virus itself. When someone is infected with HIV, their body produces proteins designed to tag the virus for elimination by the immune system. These proteins are called antibodies, and they are directed against the unique proteins of HIV. Unfortunately, these HIV antibodies do not eliminate the virus, but their presence serves as a marker to show that someone is infected with HIV. HIV antibody tests are the most commonly used tests to determine if someone has HIV.
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What Happens If The Test Is Positive
If you receive a positive result, you will want to work with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will determine how far HIV has progressed and recommend medicines to help you manage it.
You will also want to talk about your diagnosis with your sexual partner. If you and your partner have had unprotected sex, you could have transmitted the virus to them. They should get tested, too.
What Should I Do If My Test Is Negative
If your test result is negative, youll probably breathe a big sigh of relief. But dont let down your guard. Its important to protect yourself in the future. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether PrEP is right for you. The PrEP daily pill can reduce your risk of getting HIV from sexual contact by 99%. For IV drug users, it lowers the risk by 74%. PrEP is very important if you are HIV negative and in a stable monogamous relationship with HIV positive partner.
Even if you take PrEP, its still smart to practice safer sex. Always use a condom to reduce your risk of getting HIV and other STDs.
Why Do I Need An Hiv Test
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. You may also need an HIV test if you are at higher risk for infection. HIV is mainly spread through sexual contact and blood, so you may be at a higher risk for HIV if you:
- Are a man that has had sex with another man
- Have had sex with an HIV-infected partner
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have injected drugs, such as heroin, or shared drug needles with someone else
HIV can spread from mother to child during birth and through breast milk, so if you are pregnant your doctor may order an HIV test. There are medicines you can take during pregnancy and delivery to greatly reduce your risk of spreading the disease to your baby.
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 didn’t 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
- Are a healthcare worker and think you were exposed to HIV at work
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What Happens After A Positive Hiv Test
After a client receives a positive HIV test result, the result is reported to public health. A positive result initiates a series of processes to support the care of the client, to identify recent partners who may benefit from testing, and to prevent onward transmission.
Public Health notification
HIV is a reportable, or notifiable, illness in all Canadian provinces and territories except for Quebec .
Being reportable or notifiable means that when an HIV infection is confirmed by a clinic, doctor or laboratory, it is reported to public health authorities . Each province and territory has public health laws that stipulate specific requirements for reporting HIV diagnoses. HIV is a reportable disease because it is considered to be of significant importance to public health.
The amount of information collected and shared with public health varies according to each province or territory. However, all provinces and territories provide non-nominal data on positive tests to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which facilitates the production of national-level reports on the state of the HIV epidemic in Canada.
HIV partner notification, or contact tracing, is the practice of identifying, locating and informing someone that a partner they have had sex or used drugs with has been diagnosed with HIV. Contact tracing is meant to encourage the partners to test for HIV to identify new HIV infections as early as possible.
How Long Does Hiv Test Take
Hearing about the possibility of having any sexually transmitted disease, particularly acquired immunodeficiency syndrome can make you very troubled. This illness is caused by a kind of virus the Human immunodeficiency virus . When you find yourself in a position where you may have come in contact with this life threatening affliction, it would be safer to have a test for HIV. How long does HIV test take? Your anxiety to know the result can cause sleepless nights and troubled waking hours unless you spend time knowing what these two, AIDS and HIV, are all about.
Know what HIV and AIDS are.
Why and when should you be tested?
Every human being is at risk for the HIV, regardless of sex, age, social, or financial status. It is very important that once you come in contact in sexual way with a person who may have had unprotected sex before you, you must undergo the HIV test to determine if you are infected. This brings you back to the question how long does an HIV test take? A month to three after you had been exposed to the virus, you have to undergo the test. By then, detection of the antibody becomes possible. Then if you are at a very high risk, have an annual test.
About HIV testing
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What Is Usually The First Sign Of Hiv
- Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes are a part of the bodys immune system that helps get rid of bacteria and viruses. An HIV infection, like many other infections, can cause the inflammation of lymph nodes, which can be felt as round or nodular swellings in the armpit, groin, and neck. The swelling is often associated with aches and pains in these areas.
Should You Consider Preventive Medication
How quickly a person is able to see a healthcare provider after exposure to HIV can significantly affect their chances of contracting the virus.
If you believe youve been exposed to HIV, visit a healthcare provider within 72 hours. You may be offered an antiretroviral treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis that can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. PEP is typically taken once or twice daily for a period of 28 days.
PEP has little or no effect if taken more than
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How Soon After Exposure To Hiv Can Tests Detect I Have The Virus
The window of time between exposure to HIV and when a test will show you have the virus varies from person to person and by the type of test:
- Nucleic acid test : The NAT test can detect HIV infection the earliest. It can tell if you have HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure.
- Antigen/antibody test: The antigen/antibody test can detect infection 18 to 45 days after exposure when performed by a lab using blood from a vein. If the sample is from a finger prick, the window is 18 to 90 days after exposure.
- Antibody test: Antibody tests can detect infection 23 to 90 days after exposure.
If your initial test is negative, get a second test after the window of time has passed. The second test can confirm your negative result in case you got tested before the infection was active in your body.
Remember, post-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent infection, but you must start it within 72 hours of possible infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to start PEP.
Does There Have To Be Consent To Have An Hiv Test
HIV testing must only be performed after a person gives consent that is explicit, informed and voluntary.
It is understood in Canada that respecting and protecting peoples rights needs to be central to HIV testing. HIV testing is voluntary in Canada, meaning that a person is free to accept or refuse an HIV test without threat or coercion. Under no circumstances should the person be pressured to receive an HIV test.
What is informed consent?
A person being tested for HIV must provide informed consent. To be able to provide informed consent, the person must be able to:
A pre-test discussion should ensure that the person being tested is able to provide informed consent. The Public Health Agency of Canadas HIV Screening and Testing Guide recommends that verbal informed consent be sufficient, as with other medical tests.
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Screening For Hiv In Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll be offered a blood test to check if you have HIV as part of routine antenatal screening.
If untreated, HIV can be passed to your baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. Treatment in pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of passing HIV on to the baby.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
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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Are These Figures Always Accurate
In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:
- When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid , their window periods are likely to be longer.
- Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period.
- The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B and its possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
British HIV Association, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV and British Infection Association. Adult HIV Testing Guidelines 2020.
Delaney KP et al. Time from HIV infection to earliest detection for 4 FDA-approved point-of-care tests. Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, abstract 565, 2018.
What Is The Window Period And How Does It Differ Between Tests
No test can detect HIV immediately after infection. The time between when a person is exposed to HIV and when an HIV test can tell they have HIV is called the window period. The window period can vary between two weeks and three months. The length of the window period varies from person to person and also depends on the type of test used. Some people develop markers of HIV infection that are detected by HIV tests slowly and some people develop them more rapidly. Once these markers of HIV infection are present in amounts that the test can detect, the window period is over.
If someone has had a recent exposure to HIV and gets tested for HIV during the window period, the test result may come back as negative even though the person actually has HIV. This would happen if their body has not started producing the markers of HIV infection at levels that are detectable by the test. When a test result is negative after a recent exposure to HIV, the person should be retested at the end of the window period to confirm they are HIV negative.
The most commonly used HIV tests in Canada detect different markers of HIV infection. Some look for HIV antibodies only, while another looks for both antibodies and the p24 antigen . All antibody tests in Canada can detect both HIV-1 and HIV-2.
The Geenius confirmatory assay can detect HIV infection in 50% of people by 33 days after exposure to HIV and in 99% of people by 58 days after exposure.
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