How Long Do I Need To Wait Before I Test
Thereâs a window period between exposure to HIV and a positive test because it takes time for your body to either build a response to the infection or for the virus to replicate enough for a test to detect it. HIV window periods can vary.
For example, if you have unprotected sex on a Friday night, and get an HIV test Monday morning, the test wonât be able to detect HIV or an immune response to HIV yet. There hasnât been enough time for a positive result, even if the virus is in your body.
To get the earliest, most accurate result, first consider when you were exposed and whether youâre showing symptoms.
- If you know exactly when you may have come into contact with the virus, take a test 3 months after that date. Tests 3 months after exposure should be 99% accurate.
- If you are having symptoms of HIV, see your doctor right away. Your doctor may want to use a test that can look for the virus directly in your body.
How Often Does Oraquick Give A False Positive
One study found a false-positive rate of 1.17% in test kits used with 1 month remaining until expiration. It is noted that these results came from an older version of the OraQuick ADVANCE test kit. Accuracy of both oral and blood HIV screening tests may also be affected by concomitant tropical infections.
What Happens If My Test Is Positive
If you test positive for HIV, it is important to remember that with treatment you can live a long, healthy life. In fact, with early treatment, people with HIV can live about as long as people that are not infected.
A team approach will help you get the medical care and support that you need. Start by talking to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site. He or she can help you with suggestions on how to talk to your parents or guardians and how to find a health care provider who’s an HIV specialist. By starting treatment as soon as possible, you can stay healthy and learn to live well with HIV.
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What Else Do I Need To Know About Hiv Testing
The world has come a long way from when the AIDS epidemic hit in the late 1980s. Researchers are working tirelessly to find treatments.
Unfortunately, many people still dont understand much about HIV. Because of this, legislation exists to protect people living with HIV and AIDS. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with HIV from discrimination. If you believe someone has discriminated against you because of your HIV status, you may wish to consult legal counsel.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Research has made significant progress in terms of what we know about HIV. But there is still more to learn. Until researchers find a vaccine, HIV will continue to infect people. If you or someone you love may be HIV positive, please seek help. Current treatments can help HIV-positive people live happy, productive lives.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/10/2016.
If You Get A Positive Result Dont Panic It Really Doesnt Mean Much
All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but youre asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you arent experiencing any symptoms.
To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO its a mystery as to why were still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.
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Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing
Several different tests are used to detect HIV, including lab testing, the rapid antibody screening test, the rapid antigen/antibody test and a self-test that uses oral fluid.
Lab testing requires blood to be drawn from your vein. Your blood is then analyzed in a lab to detect either the genetic material of the virus, or specific HIV antigens and antibodies.
It usually takes several days to receive the results from an HIV lab test.
If youre tested for HIV with a rapid antibody screening test, or with a rapid antigen/antibody test, your results will typically be ready in under 30 minutes.
If you test yourself for HIV using an oral fluid antibody self-test such as the OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test, youll receive results within 20 minutes.
Right now, there are no tests that can accurately detect HIV immediately after infection. If youre worried that you may have been exposed to HIV, its important to seek medical help immediately and, if possible, use post-exposure prophylaxis .
In order to undergo testing for HIV, youll need to wait for the window period to pass.
The window period varies depending on the type of HIV test:
Hiv Tests: Types Accuracy Timeframe
An HIV test can let a person know if they have HIV. An individual can get tested at a doctors office, sexual health clinic, or other test sites, or they can order a self-test kit to use at home. How long it takes to get the results depends on the test type. Most sexually active people should aim to get a test at least once a year.
HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys cells in the immune system. These cells protect the body against germs, such as viruses and bacteria, that cause diseases.
If a person loses too many immune cells, their body will have difficulty fighting off infections and other diseases. Without treatment, HIV can lead to AIDS.
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, with proper medical care, a person can manage the virus and its symptoms and have a close-to-normal life expectancy.
The only way an individual can know for sure whether they have HIV is to get an HIV test. They should know their HIV status to help them make healthy decisions to prevent contracting or transmitting HIV.
This article looks at types of HIV tests, self-tests, how long it takes to get results for HIV tests, and how soon after exposure that tests can detect the virus. It also looks at where people can get or order a test and whether individuals should get tested.
There are three types of HIV tests a person can take:
- nucleic acid tests
These tests typically involve screening oral fluid or blood and sometimes urine for HIV.
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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.
How Much Does The Test Cost
The cost of an HIV test is usually covered by insurance without a copay, although specific costs depend on a persons insurance coverage and where the test is performed. Check with your health plan and health care provider for specific cost details.
At-home HIV tests cost below $50. Health departments and community-based organizations may provide HIV self-test kits for free or at a reduced cost.
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How Long Does Seroconversion Take
The timeframe between when a person contracts HIV and when tests can detect the infection is known as the window period. Everyones immune system is different. This makes it difficult to predict how long this stage will last.
Scientists have developed sensitive blood tests since the early days of the HIV epidemic. Its now possible to detect HIV antibodies, as well as other components of HIV, earlier than ever before. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, most people test positive within a few weeks of contracting HIV. For others, it may take
During the window period, a person may develop symptoms similar to the flu or other common viruses that include:
- swollen lymph nodes
Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. And they may range from mild to severe. But its possible to pass through the early infection stage without experiencing any symptoms at all. During this time, a person may not even realize that theyve contracted HIV.
Detecting Hiv: Seroconversion Time Is Important
When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus , timing can affect HIV test results. Although tests have become more accurate, none of them can detect an HIV infection immediately after its contracted.
The bodys defense mechanisms kick into action after contracting HIV. The immune system begins to develop antibodies to attack the virus. This production of HIV antibodies is called seroconversion. Before seroconversion, there may not be detectable levels of HIV antibodies in a persons blood.
Before seroconversion, an HIV blood test could produce a false negative result. A positive HIV antibody test will not appear until the body makes enough HIV antibodies to be detected.
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S To Take After Being Exposed To Hiv
Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV should get tested. If the initial test results are negative, schedule a follow-up test.
Ask a healthcare provider or contact the local department of public health to find out where to go for testing. Testing sites may offer either anonymous or confidential testing, depending on the laws in the state and local area. Anonymous means names are not recorded by the testing site, and only the person being tested has access to the results. Confidential means a healthcare provider has access to the results, and the results may be recorded in a persons medical file at the testing site.
Talk to a healthcare provider about post-exposure prophylaxis and pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Peoples actions can help stop the spread of the virus. Until someone is confident that theyre HIV-free, they should avoid sexual contact or use a condom during sex. Its also important to avoid sharing needles with others.
To find a nearby HIV testing site, visit GetTested.cdc.gov.
What Does The Test Measure
HIV tests detect the presence of the HIV virus, HIV antigens, and/or HIV antibodies. If these substances are detected, the test returns a positive result for HIV.
There are three types of HIV tests available:
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How Long Does It Take For Hiv Symptoms To Show
A short, flu-like illness is usually the only symptom of HIV, two to six weeks after infection. About 80% of people with HIV experience this. If youre having these symptoms, and theres a chance you couldve been exposed to HIV in recent weeks, its a good idea to get tested.
The most common symptoms of this illness are:
- Sore throat
Other symptoms include aches and pains, swollen glands, and feeling very tired. After these symptoms pass its possible to go years without experiencing any symptoms.
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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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When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who is showing symptoms of HIV should contact a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if the individual has recently had sexual contact with someone else or shared a needle with someone else.
HIV can remain asymptomatic for a long time. For this reason, anyone who has recently had unprotected sex and is concerned about exposure to HIV should contact a doctor as soon as they can, even if they do not have any symptoms. The same goes for anyone who has recently shared a needle.
It can be difficult to discuss the possibility of having HIV. However, without proper treatment, HIV can be life threatening. In these situations, it is very important for people to put their long-term health first and to discuss the matter with a doctor.
Where Can Someone Get Tested For Hiv
Your health care provider can give you an HIV test. HIV testing is also available at many hospitals, medical clinics, substance use programs, and community health centers. Use CDC’s GetTested treatment locator to find an HIV testing location near you. Getting tested through a professional health care provider is recommended however, there are HIV self-testing kits available. Rapid self-test and mail-in self-test are the two types of HIV self-tests, but state laws regarding self-testing may limit their availability in a location.
A rapid self-test is an oral fluid test done entirely at home or in private. There is currently one U.S. Food and Drug Administration -approved rapid self-test called OraQuick In-Home HIV test. A mail-in self-test requires a person to provide a blood sample from a fingerstick, which is then sent to a lab for testing.
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How Often Do You Need To Get Tested For Hiv
How often you should get tested depends on your personal practices, risk behaviours, and how often you engage in them.
For most people, it is important to have a full sexual health test at least once each year. This testing includes:
Even if you always use condoms, it is recommended you get tested annually as condoms dont provide 100% protection against HIV and STIs.
Testing With No Symptoms
Blood tests can be used when a person has no visible symptoms but has concerns about having herpes. Blood tests do not actually detect the virus instead, they look for antibodies in the blood.
IgM vs. IgG
When an individual contracts herpes, the immune system responds by developing antibodies to fight the virus: IgG and IgM. Blood tests can look for and detect these antibodiesnot the virus itself. IgG appears soon after infection and stays in the blood for life. IgM is actually the first antibody that appears after infection, but it may disappear thereafter.
IgM tests are not recommended because of three serious problems:
The accurate herpes blood tests detect IgG antibodies. Unlike IgM, IgG antibodies can be accurately broken down to either HSV-1 or HSV-2. The challenge here is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach detectable levels can vary from person to person. For one person, it could take just a few weeks, while it could take a few months for another. So even with the accurate tests, a person could receive a false negative if the test is taken too soon after contracting the virus.
For the most accurate test result, it is recommended to wait 12 16 weeks from the last possible date of exposure before getting an accurate, type-specific blood test in order to allow enough time for antibodies to reach detectable levels.
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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.