How Is It Used
HIV antibody and HIV antigen testing is used to screen for and diagnose HIV infections. Early detection and treatment of HIV infection and immune system monitoring can greatly improve long-term health and survival. Also, if a person knows his or her HIV status, it may help change behaviors that can put him or her and others at risk.
Different types of tests may be used for HIV screening:
There are a few different ways a person can get access to HIV screening:
To Facilitate Hiv Testing Healthcare Providers Can:
- normalise the offer of HIV testing, making it part of routine care
- assure protection of the persons anonymity and confidentiality
- offer an environment that is free of stigma and discrimination
- emphasize the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment
- provide information on risk factors for HIV infection, and prevention methods
- discuss testing options, including POC testing and self-testing
- when taking a sexual health history, keep it brief and relevant, as detailed risk assessments can deter people from seeking care
HIV self-testing and POC testing can facilitate uptake of screening. In addition, HIV self-testing provides an option for people who face barriers to accessing testing in healthcare settings.
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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.
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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.
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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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What Types Of Tests Diagnose Hiv
To diagnose HIV, healthcare providers can order any of three tests:
- Nucleic acid test: The NAT test looks for the virus in your blood. It is a thorough laboratory test but can be costly. The results can take several days to receive.
- Antigen/antibody test: This test looks for antibodies and antigens to HIV in your blood. Your immune system forms antibodies when it comes in contact with viruses, such as HIV. Antigens, however, are foreign substances that activate your immune system. HIV has a particular antigen that this test can find. This rapid test uses a drop of blood from a finger prick and can give you results in roughly 30 minutes.
- HIV antibody test: This test is similar to the antigen/antibody test, but it only looks for the antibody. Just like the antigen/antibody test, this test produces results in around 30 minutes. It uses either a drop of blood from a finger prick or a swab of saliva.
Some states allow for home testing. There are two types of home tests:
- Rapid self-test: The only rapid self-test available in the United States uses a saliva sample to check for infection. After you receive your kit, you swab your gums and use the test kit to get results.
- Mail-in self-test: This test uses a blood sample from a simple finger prick. All of the supplies are in the kit to help you take the sample, package it and send it to the lab. A healthcare provider will tell you the results.
How Long Are The Window Periods Of Different Hiv Tests
It is hard to say exactly how long the window period lasts, as there are variations between individuals and it is a difficult topic to research .
Nonetheless, a study by Dr Kevin Delaney and colleagues calculated window periods for a range of HIV testing assays. All these analyses were based on plasma samples. Window periods are likely to be several days longer when testing samples of fingerprick blood or of oral fluid, as will be normal when using rapid, point-of-care tests and self-testing devices. Unfortunately, precise figures for how much longer the window periods are have not yet been published.
The researchers analysis confirms that fourth-generation laboratory tests detect HIV infections between one and three weeks earlier than older antibody-only tests. Moreover, their data suggest that some countries guidelines which recommend retesting 90 days after a possible exposure to HIV are more cautious than they need to be.
Afourth-generation laboratory testis recommended in UK and US guidelines. It uses a sample of blood plasma or serum and can detect immunoglobulin G antibodies, immunoglobulin M antibodies and p24 viral antigen . Commonly used tests of this type include Abbott Architect HIV Ag/Ab, GS Combo Ag/Ab EIA and Siemens Combo HIV Ag-Ab.
- The median window period is 18 days . This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 13 and 24 days after exposure.
- 99% of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 44 days of exposure.
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How An Hiv Test Works
An HIV test is a blood test. It does not detect HIV itself, but looks for a protein found in an HIV cell, or an antibody made by the body to fight HIV.
HIV tests in the UK are very reliable. They can occasionally produce a positive result which is then found to be negative when tested again. This is called a false positive and is rare, occurring in less than 1 in 1000 cases.
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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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.
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:
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Making Hiv Testing Routine
You might want to test more regularly than this, for example, if you are having sex with a new partner or feel you are more at risk. Groups who are more at risk are recommended to test more regularly. Testing every 3-6 months is often advised for men who have sex with men.
Testing regularly helps keep your mind at rest, and if you test positive, it means you can start treatment quickly, protecting your health.
Some Practices Dont Reduce Your Risk Of Hiv
Some people use unreliable methods to reduce their risk of HIV. These include:
- Serosorting choosing your sexual partner based upon them having the same HIV status as you.
- Strategic positioning where an HIV-negative partner penetrates an HIV-positive partner.
- Withdrawal when the insertive partner pulls out before ejaculating .
None of these strategies are reliable, so you are at risk of HIV transmission.Having sex only with people who have the same HIV status can be very risky. For example, a person may think they are HIV-negative, but may have been exposed to HIV since their last test, or may never have been tested at all.
Using a combination of proven, reliable strategies like condoms, PrEP, and undetectable viral load is the best way to prevent HIV transmission.
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What Is The Hiv Antigen
Helga George A blood sample is required for HIV testing. The HIV antigen is a protein found in the core structure of the human immunodeficiency virus , the organism that causes AIDS. This protein is known as p24, and its presence is used as a test for infection by the virus.In the 1990s, this test was used in the United States to screen blood before it entered the blood supply.
How Does A 4th Generation Hiv Test Work
Fourth-generation tests detect two factors in the blood: HIV antibodies and p24 antigens.
When a person contracts HIV, the immune system starts to produce HIV antibodies. This is the bodys method of fighting the virus.
The immune system produces these antibodies in response to p24 antigens.
P24 antigens are a part of the virus, and research indicates that they tend to appear within of HIV entering the body.
A fourth-generation test can reliably detect HIV as soon as 1 month after a person contracts it.
When a person has an HIV test, the healthcare provider will take a small sample of their blood. For a fourth-generation HIV test, the provider will usually send the sample off to a lab for testing.
A person can usually expect their result within a few weeks, though the result may come back in a few days.
If the result is positive, the healthcare provider may arrange for a follow-up test to confirm the findings. A positive result means that the person is living with HIV.
After receiving a positive result, it is essential to inform any current or former sexual partners so that they can also get tested.
A doctor will advise on the best course of treatment.
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Why Its Important To Test
If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan.
Once youre on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable then you canât pass the virus on to anyone else.
If you wait to test, the virus could do a lot of damage. There is a lot of support available for people who test positive.
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How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
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How Long Does Hiv Test Take
Regardless of the type of screening test used, a positive result will require follow-up testing to establish an HIV diagnosis. If you test positive for HIV on both the initial and follow-up testing, it means you are HIV-positive. It usually takes a few days to a few weeks to get results of an HIV test, although some rapid HIV tests can produce results in about 20 minutes.
- Nucleic acid tests can usually tell you if you are infected with HIV 10 to 33 days after an exposure
- Antigen/antibody HIV test can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after an exposure
- Antibody HIV test can usually take 23 to 90 days to reliably detect HIV infection
Rapid HIV testing
Several rapid tests offer highly accurate information within as little as 20 minutes. These tests look for antibodies to HIV using a sample of your blood, drawn from a vein or a finger prick, or fluids collected on a treated pad that is rubbed on your upper and lower gums. A positive reaction on a rapid test requires a confirming blood test.
Home HIV testing
There are two HIV home test kits approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for home use. Both are HIV antibody tests.
Home testing involves two options:
- Mailing a blood sample to a testing center and calling in for your results
- Collecting an oral fluid sample at home and using a kit to test it yourself
Both methods ensure anonymity and offer confidential counseling and referral to follow-up testing sites if your test results are positive.
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.
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