What Is Being Tested
Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . HIV screening tests detect the HIV antigen and/or HIV antibodies produced by the body in response to an HIV infection in the blood. Some tests detect HIV antibodies in saliva.
An HIV infection may initially cause no symptoms or cause flu-like symptoms that resolve after a week or two. The only way to determine whether you have been infected is through HIV testing.
If left untreated, an HIV infection can progressively destroy the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. HIV weakens the immune system by infecting lymphocytes , a type of white blood cell, that normally help the body fight infections.
During the first few weeks following infection with HIV, the virus infects T-cells, making numerous copies of itself and continuing to infect more T-cells. The amount of virus and the p24 antigen level in blood can be quite high. HIV tests that detect the p24 antigen can generally identify infections in the first weeks after infection, even before antibodies develop.
About 2-8 weeks after exposure to the virus, the immune system responds by producing antibodies directed against the virus that can be detected in the blood. As the initial infection resolves and the level of HIV antibody increases, both virus and p24 antigen levels decrease in the blood. HIV tests that detect HIV antibodies can identify HIV infections about 2 to 8 weeks after infection.
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.
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.
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How Long Does Hiv Take To Test Positive
In the event that PEP has been taken for a period of time, most modern HIV tests can detect HIV within four weeks of exposure. It depends on the type of test you are offered and when your risk was, as well as the type of test you were offered, whether you will be asked to return for more tests and a follow-up.
What Does A Positive Test Result Mean
If you receive an HIV-positive result, the healthcare worker will talk to you about what this means and what will happen next. For most people, receiving a positive diagnosis can be a shocking and emotional experience this is completely normal. The healthcare worker is there to support you and to answer any questions that you have.
Treatment means that HIV is now a manageable illness. Your healthcare provider can link you to support and treatment services, and any other health services that you need. Any questions that you have you can ask them its their job to help answer your worries. You will most likely be asked to schedule another appointment with them in the very near future. Its very important to keep appointments and use the support offered to you. You may also be offered screening tests for other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.
Find out what questions to ask and what support is available to help you cope with the results on our Newly diagnosed page.
It has almost been eight months since I was diagnosed with HIV. I was confused, ashamed, I kept asking, ‘How this could be?’. Slowly but surely Im beginning to accept that HIV is going to be a part of me and I definitely have control over it.
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What Are The Tests For Detecting Hiv
Various tests may be used for HIV detection:
- HIV antibody test: This test detects the antibodies produced in the body in response to HIV.
- Antigen test: This test can be done at an earlier stage than an HIV antibody test. It measures a protein called p24 antigen, present in the virus and produced in high amounts after the infection.
- Nucleic acid test : It is also called an RNA test. It is a very specific test that looks for the virus itself and can detect HIV as early as about 10 days of infections.
- In-home test kits: Although less accurate than the laboratory-based tests, home-based kits have the advantage of testing in the privacy and comfort of the home. Only FDA approved home-based kits should be used.
- Viral culture: This involves using the patients sample and growing the virus in the lab. It takes longer to get the results and is not the most preferred test for HIV.
What Does A Positive Hiv Test Result Mean
If you have a positive HIV test result, a follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are HIV-positive.
If you had a rapid screening test, the testing site will arrange a follow-up test to make sure the screening test result was correct. If you used a self-testing kit at home, a positive HIV test result must always be confirmed by additional HIV testing performed in a health care setting. If your blood was tested in a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same sample.
If your follow-up test result confirms you are infected with HIV, the next thing is to take steps to protect your health and prevent transmission to others. Begin by talking to your health care provider about antiretroviral therapy . ART is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines every day. ART can keep you healthy for many years and greatly reduces your chance of transmitting HIV to your sex partner if taken the right way, every day. Your health care provider will help you decide what HIV medicines to take.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you dont have health insurance, or you need help because your insurance doesnt pay for the treatment you need, there are Federal resources that may help you.
To lower your risk of transmitting HIV,
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Letting Partners Know You Have Hiv
If you have just been diagnosed with HIV, it will likely be a difficult time. You might still be struggling to come to terms with diagnosis.
During this time, it is important to let any sexual or injecting partners know they may have been exposed to HIV as soon as you can, so they can be tested and offered PEP if appropriate.
You do not have to do this alone. Your doctor or the Department of Health and Human Services Partner Notification Officers can help you through this process and ensure your identity is not revealed.. Both groups can provide information, support, and guidance for people living with HIV.
Getting Your Hiv Test Results
Most HIV test results are available within a week.
If the test result is negative, you may receive your results within a few days.
If the initial test result is positive, then additional testing to confirm the result needs to be performed in a reference laboratory and this can take up to a week to get a result.
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Should I Tell Anyone Else Of My Test Results
Yes. If you test positive for HIV infection, it is important that you tell your healthcare practitioners as well as all current and future sex partners and/or anyone with whom you share needles. Counseling services are often available from the clinic that performed the test or from your healthcare provider that will help you to inform the people who need to know.
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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Importance Of Hiv Testing
If you have the virus, finding out quickly means you can start treatment right away so you can feel better and live a long, full life. You can also take steps so you don’t pass HIV to other people.
Where To Get Tested For Hiv
Getting an HIV test is easy. Tests for HIV and other STIs are confidential and available from your local doctor , or a sexual and reproductive health clinic.
It is a good idea to have some pre-test counselling. Before the test, talk with your doctor, nurse, or peer tester about any concerns, your level of risk, whether you are likely to be HIV-positive and what a positive result may mean.
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Hiv Testing And Your Rights
Testing for HIV is voluntary and can only be done with your informed consent, except in exceptional circumstances.
Before you are tested, you will be provided with information about what is involved. what the results might mean for you, and how to prevent HIV transmission in the future. All people who request an HIV test must receive this information from the test provider.
Under Australian and Victorian law, it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone who has HIV. Test results, and details on whether someone has been tested are strictly confidential. It is illegal for any information about a person being tested or a person with HIV to be disclosed without their permission.
How Std Testing Works
Getting tested for STDs is usually a quick, simple and painless process. If youre concerned that you might have an STD, the best way to arrange an STD test is to get in touch with your primary care provider and let them know youd like to be tested.
Theres no need to feel embarrassed when asking for an STD test. Healthcare professionals are used to administering STD tests, and getting tested on a regular basis is part of being a healthy, sexually active adult not something that you should ever feel ashamed of.
Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may request that you complete one or several of the following tests:
Physical exam. Before administering other tests, your healthcare provider may look at the affected area to check for visible sores, rashes or other signs of infection.
Blood test. For this test, a nurse or doctor will draw blood from your arm using a needle, or from a finger prick. Blood testing is used to detect a range of STDs, including hepatitis A, B and C, herpes, syphilis and HIV.
Fluid sample. If you have open sores, your healthcare provider may take a sample from the sores to test for STDs.
Cheek swab. In some cases, such as to test for HIV, your healthcare provider may rub a swab inside your cheek.
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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:
- Antibody test: Antibodies are produced by the body after an HIV infection. It can take weeks for the body to produce antibodies, so HIV antibody tests can only detect HIV from 3 to 12 weeks after infection.
- Antigen/antibody test: Antigens are foreign substances that activate an immune response. Antigens appear before the body produces antibodies, so HIV antigen/antibody tests can detect an HIV infection earlier than antibody tests, within 2 to 4 weeks of becoming infected.
- HIV viral load test: An HIV viral load test looks for the quantity of HIV virus in the blood. In addition to detecting an HIV infection, viral load testing can also detect how much of the virus is in the blood. Although this type of testing can detect an HIV infection earlier than other HIV tests, its very expensive and is typically only used when someone has symptoms or a possible exposure to HIV.
What Do The Results Mean
If your result is negative, it can mean you don’t have HIV. A negative result may also mean you have HIV but it’s too soon to tell. It can take a few weeks for HIV antibodies and antigens to show up in your body. If your result is negative, your health care provider may order additional HIV tests at a later date.
If your result is positive, you will get a follow-up test to confirm the diagnosis. If both tests are positive, it means you have HIV. It does not mean you have AIDS. While there is no cure for HIV, the disease can be effectively controlled with medicine. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can significantly reduce the amount of HIV in the blood. People with HIV who take ART before the disease gets too advanced can live long, healthy lives. If you are living with HIV, it’s important to see your health care provider regularly.
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What Is An Hiv Test
An HIV test shows whether you are infected with HIV . HIV is a virus that attacks and destroys cells in the immune system. These cells protect your body against disease-causing germs, such as bacteria and viruses. If you lose too many immune cells, your body will have trouble fighting off infections and other diseases.
There are three main types of HIV tests:
- Antibody Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies in your blood or saliva. Your immune system makes antibodies when you are exposed to bacteria or viruses, like HIV. An HIV antibody test can determine if you have HIV from 312 weeks after infection. That’s because it can take a few weeks or longer for your immune system to make antibodies to HIV. You may be able to do an HIV antibody test in the privacy of your home. Ask your health care provider about at-home HIV test kits.
- HIV Antibody/Antigen Test. This test looks for HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood. An antigen is a part of a virus that triggers an immune response. If you’ve been exposed to HIV, antigens will show up in your blood before HIV antibodies are made. This test can usually find HIV within 26 weeks of infection. The HIV antibody/antigen test is one of the most common types of HIV tests.
- HIV Viral Load. This test measures the amount of the HIV virus in the blood. It can find HIV faster than antibody and antibody/antigen tests, but it is very expensive. It is mostly used for monitoring HIV infections.