What Happens During An Hiv Test
You will either get a blood test in a lab, or do your own test at home.
For a blood test in a lab:
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For at home test, you will need to get a sample of saliva from your mouth or a drop of blood from your fingertip.
The test kit will provide instructions on how to get your sample, package it, and send it to a lab.
- For a saliva test, you will use special spatula-like tool to take a swab from your mouth.
- For a fingertip antibody blood test, you will use a special tool to prick your finger and collect a sample of blood.
For more information on at-home testing, talk to your health care provider.
Will other people know my HIV test result?
If you take an anonymous test, no one but you will know the result. If you take a confidential test, your test result will be part of your medical record, but it is still protected by state and federal privacy laws.
Who Should Get Tested For Hiv
Roughly one in seven Americans who have HIV dont know they do. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 65 get tested at least once. If you are in a higher risk group, you should consider more frequent testing.
Even if you tested negative, you should get tested if you can answer yes to any of these questions about your activity since that test. Have you:
- Had sex with another man ?
- Had anal or vaginal sex with someone who is HIV-positive?
- Had more than one sex partner?
- Injected drugs with a shared needle?
- Received another STI diagnosis?
- Had sex with someone who could answer yes to any of these questions?
If you believe you may have had HIV exposure within the last 72 hours, talk to your healthcare provider. You may be able to get post-exposure prophylaxis — ie, medication. A PEP can prevent HIV when administered correctly. The sooner you begin to take it, the better, although it isnt 100% effective.
If My Test Is Negative Do I Need Get Tested Again
Talk to your doctor or the counselor or social worker at the testing site to see if you need to get tested again.
Some reasons to get tested again include if you:
- have sex without a condom
- are a guy who has sex with other guys
- have had sex with more than three partners in the past year
- get an STD
- are a woman and are pregnant
Recommended Reading: How Do Antiviral Drugs Treat Hiv
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 can’t 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.
Testing Outside Of The United States
Rapid tests that have been approved for HIV home testing outside of the United States include:
- Atomo HIV Self Test. This test is available in Australia and has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration , the countrys regulatory agency. It tests for HIV in 15 minutes.
- autotest VIH. This test is only available in certain parts of Europe. It tests for HIV in 15 to 20 minutes.
- BioSure HIV Self Test. This test is only available in certain parts of Europe. It tests for HIV in about 15 minutes.
- INSTI HIV Self Test. This test launched in the Netherlands in 2017 and can be purchased everywhere except the United States and Canada. It promises results within 60 seconds.
- Simplitude ByMe HIV Test. This test launched in July 2020 and is available in the United Kingdom and Germany. It tests for HIV in 15 minutes.
These particular tests all rely on a blood sample taken from the fingertip.
None of them have been FDA approved for use in the United States. However, the autotest VIH, BioSure, INSTI, and Simplitude ByMe kits all have CE marking.
If a product has CE marking, it complies with the safety, health, and environmental standards set forth by the European Economic Area .
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Hiv On Prep
What If I Test Positive For Hiv
If your HIV test comes back positive, a follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are living with HIV.
It is important that you start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV, even if you dont feel sick.
Antiretrovirals are prescribed medications used to treat HIV. A person diagnosed with HIV on ongoing treatment and in medical care can live a normal, healthy lifespan. In addition to improving health, ARVs also prevent the spread of the virus.
ARVs are recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. To get the full health and preventive benefits of ARVs, it is important to stay connected to medical care and continue to take medications every day as prescribed.
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.
You May Like: Can People With Hiv Donate Blood
What Does A Negative Test Result Mean
A negative result doesnt necessarily mean that you dont have HIV. Thats because of the window period the time between when a person may have been exposed to HIV and when a test can tell for sure whether they have HIV. 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 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 taking to be sure. For example, if your health care provider uses an antigen/antibody test performed by a laboratory with blood from a vein you should get tested again 45 days after your most recent exposure. For other tests, you should test again at least 90 days after your most recent exposure to tell for sure if you have HIV.
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.
If I have a negative result, does that mean that my partner is HIV negative also?
No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status.
What Does A Positive Result Mean
A follow-up test will be conducted. If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you are living with HIV .
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 your blood was tested in a lab, the lab will conduct a follow-up test on the same sample.
It is important that you start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy or ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. ART works by lowering the amount of virus in your body to very low levels, called viral suppression. It slows the progression of HIV and helps protect your immune system. If you are on ART and virally suppressed, you can stay healthy for many years, and greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners.
If you have health insurance, your insurer is required to cover some medicines used to treat HIV. If you dont have health insurance, or youre unable to afford your co-pay or co-insurance amount, you may be eligible for government programs that can help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. Your health care provider or local public health department can tell you where to get HIV treatment.
To lower your risk of transmitting HIV:
If I test positive for HIV, does that mean I have AIDS?
Family and friends
Don’t Miss: What Does Exposed To Hiv Mean
How Does The Oraquick In
The test checks for antibodies to HIV. Antibodies are proteins the body makes to fight off an infection.
The kit contains a test stick you use to swab your upper and lower gums to collect an oral fluid sample from your mouth. The stick is then placed in a tube with a testing solution. After 20 to 40 minutes, one line will appear if the test is negative. Two lines indicate that HIV antibodies were detected and that you may be HIV positive.
If the home test is positive, a follow-up laboratory test will need to be done to confirm the results.
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.
Also Check: Does Prep Prevent Transmission Of Hiv
How Soon Can I Get Tested For Stds After Unprotected Sex
Lets say youve recently had unprotected sex and now youre worried that you may have picked up a sexually transmitted disease . With STD rates rising higher than ever before, this is a totally valid and legitimate concern. So what do you do? Getting tested would be a very smart decision, but you may be surprised to learn that you can actually test too early.
If you feel like you could have contracted an STD, your instinct may be to get tested immediately, but this can be a huge mistake. Testing too early can cause inaccurate results, possibly leading you to believe youre STD-free when youre really not. This is because each STD has its own unique incubation period, which you must out wait in order to get accurate results. Like many things in life, timing is everything.
How Are Testing Technologies Used To Diagnose Hiv Infection
To test for HIV, a sample of a persons blood is taken. With the most common test, a vial of blood taken from a vein is sent to a laboratory to be tested for HIV . There are also rapid tests available, which use a drop of blood from a finger prick to test for HIV immediately after the sample is taken.
Don’t Miss: Is Hiv Transmitted Through Sperm
How You Can Get Access To Hiv Screening
- A blood or oral sample can be collected in a health practitioners office or a local clinic and sent to a laboratory for testing. Certain testing centers provide either anonymous or confidential HIV testing and counseling. People can also contact their state, county, or city health department to find out where testing may be available.
- In these same settings, there may be a rapid test available in which results are generated in about 20 minutes.
- A home collection kit is available that allows a person to take a sample at home and then mail it to a testing center. Results are available over the phone, along with appropriate counseling.
- There is a home test for HIV test that uses an oral sample and results are available in about 20 minutes. This allows the person tested to remain anonymous and to get confidential results. The home test has two limitations: 1) testing on oral fluid is less sensitive than a blood test so the home test may miss some cases of HIV that a blood test would detect and 2) the home test is not as accurate when it is performed at home by a lay person compared to when it is performed by a trained health professional. However, the convenience of home testing might encourage some people who might otherwise be reluctant to go to a health practitioner or clinic to learn their HIV status.
Is Hiv Testing Confidential
If you test positive for HIV, your status becomes part of your private medical record and is protected by federal privacy laws. Your state may require your healthcare provider to report the infection to your state health department. State departments send results to the CDC without your personal identifiable information.
Some states have laws that require you or your healthcare provider to notify your partner of your HIV-positive status. In some states, if you dont report your status to your partner, you can be charged with a crime.
You can choose anonymous testing. Anonymous tests dont link the results to your information. The state health department still collects the statistics, but the results arent part of your medical record.
Also Check: How Long Do Hiv Results Take
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
In order to detect undiagnosed HIV, the entire healthcare system needs to integrate HIV screening practices. Routine HIV screening can easily be offered not only in established at-risk populations, such as areas of high prevalence or in the prenatal care standards, but also in specialist offices such as dermatology, ENT, or general surgery. Widening HIV screening to include all persons ages 13-75 should not be limited to the primary care office, especially in patients who are less likely to access care in this setting.
Emergency room HIV testing is becoming accepted as an essential component of HIV detection. Non-targeted screening in the emergency department was found to have improved acceptance based on where in the patient’s process it was offered and what test was offered. Linking HIV and HCV screening has been shown to also be effective and efficient.
How Soon Do Std Symptoms Appear
How long it takes for an STD to show up in testing is entirely dependent on the STD itself, how long its own incubation period is, and your own bodys immune response. You can test for some STDs, like chlamydia, only a day after potential exposure. Meanwhile, HIV and syphilis can take a month or more before you can accurately test for them. Its all pretty confusing but lucky for you, we created a nifty little chart that breaks down each STDs average incubation period.
Also Check: Do Hiv Symptoms Come And Go
What Does This Mean For Me
For most people, the best time to test is 3 weeks after having unprotected sex with a new partner. If the test is negative, there is a good chance you do not have HIV from that sexual contact.
If you test at 6 weeks after having unprotected sex with a new partner, and that test is negative, there is a 99% chance you do not have HIV from that sexual exposure.
With any HIV test, you should test again at 3 months to be sure.
Because HIV and other sexually transmitted infection rates are high in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, routine screening every 3 months is recommended.
What Are Hiv And Aids
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . HIV progressively destroys the bodys ability to fight infections and certain cancers. It weakens the immune system by infecting lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, that normally help the body fight infections. Specific lymphocytes known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells are major targets for HIV. The virus binds to CD4 cells, enters them, replicates inside them, and eventually kills them.
Over time, the amount of HIV virusthe viral loadincreases while the number of CD4 cells in the blood declines. After several years without treatment, the number of CD4 cells can drop to the point that AIDS-associated conditions and symptoms begin to appear. AIDS treatments can slow disease progression by reducing the amount of HIV in the body. This allows the bodys CD4 cells to increase or stabilize.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 50,000 people in the U.S are newly infected with HIV each year, that 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV infection, and that nearly 13% of those with the infection are not aware of it and can pass the virus on to others. In 2012, the year with the most current statistics, nearly 14,000 people with AIDS died, and almost 660,000 have died since the beginning of the epidemic, according to the CDC.
HIV can be spread the following ways:
Also Check: Can Your Immune System Fight Off Hiv