When To Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you might have been exposed to HIV, its best to speak to a healthcare professional immediately.
Even if you dont think you have been at risk, testing regularly is good practice for people who are having sex. Its important to test for HIV during pregnancy. If you know your status, you can avoid passing the virus on to your baby. A window period is the amount of time it takes after infection for a test to give you an accurate result. Its good to know about window periods, but dont delay getting tested if you think you might have been exposed to HIV.
Are People Able To Understand Test Instructions And Use Self
A review identified 25 studies in which people used self-tests, with their results compared with those of a healthcare worker testing them at the same time. The original studies were done in a mix of North American, African, European and Asian countries. Fifteen studies used oral fluid-based tests, six used blood-based tests and four used both oral and blood specimens. Of note, several studies were evaluating professional assays that had not been adapted for use as self-tests performance could be better in commercially marketed tests.
The researchers found that most people could reliably and accurately use rapid tests. Using a statistical approach known as Cohens kappa in which 1 represents perfect agreement between the results of a self-tester and a trained health worker and less than 1 represents less than perfect agreement, results were highly concordant. The Cohens kappa was 0.98 in studies in which users first received a demonstration of how to do the self-test or to interpret its result. In studies in which this was not provided, it was 0.97. This means that in only a small minority of cases the self-tester and the healthcare worker got results that were different from each other.
If Your Hiv Test Result Is Positive
After a positive HIV test result, see a doctor to find out whether you should start on HIV treatment, even if youre still awaiting confirmation from a second test.
Its important to seek care as soon as possible, Promer says. We have evidence that the earlier you seek care, the better long-term outcomes youll have and the earlier youll get undetectable, when the level of the virus in your body will be undetectable on tests. Then you cant pass the virus to others.
Even on the off chance that your second test ultimately comes back negative, starting treatment is an insurance policy with few downsides. The regimens have gotten easier, simpler, and less toxic, Urbina says. Theres very little harm in being on them for a week, or even a month.
Getting tested for HIV can be a stressful experience, but knowing your status is empowering because it lets you take action. Even if you do test positive, you have good options. New therapies have transformed the lives of people with HIV.
It can be a chronic condition, just like high blood pressure or diabetes, Promer says. As long as its well-controlled, it shouldnt have a significant effect on your overall health and longevity.
Read more about HIV testing and what you need to know here.
You May Like: What To Do When You Break Out In Hives
Where Can You Buy An Oraquick Test
You can buy OraQuick online in packs of one to six single-use kits through the manufacturer or sites like Amazon. You can also purchase the tests in person from stores like Target, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens.
Do not buy open or used OraQuick test kits. Also, dont make your purchase from websites that arent reputable or reliable.
Could You Have A False
HIV blood test accuracy is so high that its unusual to have a positive result when you dont have HIV, or to have a negative result when you do have the virus. Still, it is possible.
These tests are highly sensitive and highly specific, so the likelihood of a false-positive or a false-negative is low, but it does occur, says Urbina. Generally, theres a greater likelihood of having a false-positive in who dont have risk factors for HIV.
Also Check: How Many People Have Hiv
Window Periods Of Rapid Tests
The window period refers to the time after infection and before seroconversion, during which markers of infection are still absent or too scarce to be detectable. Tests cannot reliably detect HIV infection until after the window period has passed. All tests have a window period, which varies from test to test.
Delaney and colleagues estimated window periods for a handful of rapid tests in a 2017 study. However, all these estimates were based on testing blood plasma. In practice, tests are usually done on fingerprick blood and the window period is likely to be several days longer.
The fourth-generation Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo was estimated to have a median window period of 19 days . This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 15 and 25 days after exposure. Ninety-nine per cent of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 43 days of exposure.
The third-generation INSTI HIV-1/HIV-2 test was estimated to have a median window period of 26 days . This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 22 and 31 days after exposure. Ninety-nine per cent of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 50 days of exposure.
UK guidelines take a cautious approach, describing the window period for all rapid, point-of-care tests as 90 days.
What The Findings Tell Us
From the point of view of specificity, the figures confirmed that the incidence of false positives remains extremely low, even with the earlier generation tests.
The figure only worsened when retesting bloods from the acute stage infections. Of the 58 samples tested, the third-generation rapid tests achieved a sensitivity of only 5.2% to 25.9%, meaning that the majority of such infections would be missed using these rapid, antibody-based tests.
Even the fourth-generationDetermine rapid antigen/antibody test was able to identify only half of the acute infections, despite having an estimated sensitivity of 96.6% and specificity of 100%. According to the UCSF researchers, the Determine test worked best during acute infection when the patient’s viral load was over 500,000.
The lab-based ARCHITECT combination antigen/antibody test performed best. With an estimated specificity of 99.1% and a specificity of 100%, the tests were able to identify nearly 90% of acute infections.
Also Check: What Percentage Of People Have Hiv
Oral Hiv Test Almost As Accurate As Blood Test
Researchers at McGill University report that their comparison of five previous studies shows an accuracy difference of less than 2 percent between blood and saliva HIV tests.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
New findings that a saliva-based HIV test is only 2 percent less accurate than blood tests could make a case for more widespread self-testing around the world.
Researchers from McGill University in Montreal report in this week’s issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases that field research data from five worldwide databases show that in high-risk populations, the saliva test is 98.0 percent accurate, compared to a blood test’s 99.68 percent accuracy.
The painless and noninvasive OraQuick HIV-1/2 saliva test, which yields results in just 20 minutes, has been shown to have great promise across several previous studies, but McGill medical scientist Nitika Pant Pai says this is the first study to evaluate its global potential.
Of course, when dealing with testing on a global scale, even a 2 percent drop in accuracy can result in a large number of false-negative or false-positive results. Study co-author Rosanna Peeling stresses that self-testing must be followed up by professional care.
Get the CNET Now newsletter
Confirming Your Hiv Test Result
Whether your HIV test result is positive or negative, youll probably need follow-up testing. If you had a negative result but were still within the window period, get tested again after the window period endsabout three months after the date of your exposure.
If you get a positive test result at home, see a doctor or go to a clinic for an antibody/antigen test and an NAT to confirm the result. A rapid in-clinic test that comes up positive for p24 antibodies will also need to be confirmed with a lab test. If your test was done at a lab the first time around, it will automatically be repeated on the same blood sample.
The lab-based test will confirm that you dont have a false-positive result and determine which of the two HIV types you have:
- HIV-1 is the most common type in the United States and most of the world.
- HIV-2 is mainly found in West Africa, but it has also spread in the United States.
Its important to know which one you have. There are differences in terms of which antiretroviral treatments are effective against each type, Urbina says.
Recommended Reading: Why Does Anal Sex Cause Hiv
How Accurate Is Oraquick
There is much debate about the accuracy of OraQuick test results but the bottom line is that if the FDA has approved this test then the results are most likely accurate.
The biggest fault in this antibody test is that it takes up to three months for a detectable level of antibodies to appear in the body and so results will not be accurate for anyone who has been exposed to or contracted the virus less than three months before taking the test.
As with any type of medical test, false negatives and false positives are possible and so if you are wary of the result you receive it is advisable to speak with a medical professional.
This is particularly important for anyone who may have received a negative result but has started to show symptoms or had a known exposure.
Another aspect that affects the accuracy of the test is how it is conducted. If the OraQuick test kit is used incorrectly then, naturally, the test results could be incorrect.
Incorrectly storing the kit can also affect the test results as tests stored in high heat can be affected and this can cause a test error.
Overall the OraQuick is a reputable test that when used correctly, stored correctly, and used within the correct time frame, will give an accurate result within 20 minutes of testing.
This is a huge reason why this test has become so popular and also why it is often used and recommended by medical professionals also.
How To Use Oraquick
When you purchase an OraQuick testing kit you will get a detailed set of instructions inside that are sure to answer any question you may have, as well as detailed descriptions of everything you receive in the kit.
The test is very straightforward and easy to use with everything you need to conduct the test provided in the test kit upon purchase.
Essentially there are three main steps when using an OraQuick test kit, these are explained briefly below.
You May Like: How Do You Avoid Hiv
How Does Hiv Testing Work
First, its important to understand the basics of HIV testing. HIV is a virus, so it is detected through an antibody test. The virus can be detected in as little as 2 weeks after exposure with up to a 99% accuracy rating.
There are several types of HIV tests that doctors give out, depending on the estimated time between exposure. Most tests have the highest accuracy when they are given 3 months after exposure. 3rd generation antibody tests are the most common and require a blood sample that is tested at a lab. 4th generation antibody/antigen tests can detect HIV within just 1 month of exposure. Results from these tests take a few days to a few weeks, but they are highly accurate.
Rapid tests are also available for faster results within just 20 minutes. However, the accuracy rating for rapid tests is lower, so a doctor may recommend a second test if the results are positive.
Normally, a doctor will draw a sample of blood for testing, sometimes it is done through saliva or urine testing. The cost of this type of test is typically covered by insurance. Many healthcare and STD clinics offer free or discounted testing services.
How Often Should I Test Myself For Hiv
According to the CDC , a person should test for HIV at different intervals depending on different factors, including their age and sexual orientation.
Everyone 1364 years of age should receive HIV testing at least once during their lifetime. People who are pregnant should also receive HIV testing in early pregnancy, and people who meet certain risk factors may require further testing.
Males who have sex with males should receive testing for HIV at least once per year. Some people may require more regular testing, such as once every 36 months.
Additionally, people who share or use needles for injectable drugs should receive HIV testing once a year.
Don’t Miss: What To Do If You Have Hiv
Oraquick Reputation And Customer Reviews
The vast majority of test users give OraQuick high marks for accuracy and efficiency.
Some users find the test hard to use. Inconclusive results that require retesting are also mentioned in a small body of reviews.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the use of the test, consult a healthcare worker for professional testing.
What To Do If Your Hiv Test Result Is Negative
A negative result can come as a huge relief, but it may not be the final word on your HIV status. If you have ongoing potential exposures like having condomless sex or using non-sterile needles, youll want to repeat the test at least once a year, maybe every three to six months. And if your negative test was performed during the window period following a potential exposure, a retesting schedule should be recommended by your provider.
Now is also the time to start thinking about protecting yourself against future exposures with HIV prevention medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis . This treatment can reduce your chance of getting HIV by about 99% if you follow the procedure exactly. Before starting on PrEP, you need to be sure that both your NAT and antibody/antigen tests are confirmed negative.
You May Like: Can You Get Hiv From Getting Oral
How Effective Are They
No HIV test is 100% accurate, but using one correctly improves the chances of getting an accurate result.
One factor to bear in mind is how much time has passed between the possible exposure and the test, known as the window period.
HIV only becomes detectable on a test after some time has passed. In most cases, a person should only take a home test at least 90 days after possible exposure to the virus.
Tests that use blood from a vein may detect HIV earlier, but these are only available from healthcare providers.
Study Shows That Some Tests Fall Short In Early Infection
Westend61 / Getty Images
As the United States aims to increase early diagnosis and treatment of people with HIV, a greater focus has been placed on determining the accuracy of HIV tests in real-world settingsnot only to minimize the number of false positive or negative test results, but to better identify people during the early stages of infection when the risk of transmission is especially high.
In order to do this, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco conducted a review of over 21,000 HIV tests performed between the years 2003 and 2008 in some of the city’s high-prevalence populations.
Of four types of tests used during this periodfrom first-generation antibody tests to rapid oral tests761 people were diagnosed with HIV , while 58 were identified during acute infection.
The study also aimed to compare the accuracy of newer testing assaysincluding fourth-generation antigen/antibody testsby retesting the blood from the 58 people previously diagnosed with acute HIV infection.
As accuracy is related to sensitivity and specificity , the take-home message is that there is room for improvement in HIV testing to capture more acute infection.
Read Also: How Is Hiv Different From Other Viruses
Can Home Test Kits Replace A Doctors Visit
Although at-home tests are convenient, they should not take the place of a doctors care.
Visiting a doctor is essential if you get a positive result. Its also important to visit your doctor if you test negative but had an at-risk event within 3 months before taking the test.
The test doesnt provide personalized suggestions for follow-up care or treatment. Meanwhile, your doctor can help you navigate which next steps make sense for you. Theyre also able to test for other STIs and STDs.
What Happens When You Go For A Test
Normally, testing involves taking a small sample of blood from your finger or your arm, or an oral swab. This is where you rub the testing pen along your gums to collect cells from your mouth.
How long it takes for HIV test results to come back will depend on the type of test you are taking. If youre taking a rapid test, you will be given your results within 20 minutes. Other types of tests will be sent to a laboratory and it may take between a few days and a few weeks for you to receive a final result.
Tests these days are very reliable, but if your result comes back positive, you should have a second confirmatory test to double check your result. If this is also positive, you will get an HIV diagnosis, after which you can start treatment.
Remember, HIV treatment these days is very effective and people with HIV can live long and healthy lives just like anyone else.
Also Check: How You Know If You Have Hiv
Don’t Miss: Do Condoms Prevent Hiv Aids