Different HIV Testing Options
There are two basic types of HIV testing, both of which can done easily by drawing blood once and submitting to the lab.
*HIV Antibody Test with Confirmation
This test is the most common and recommended for HIV testing. It is regarded as the “gold standard” of testing and yields a 99.5% level of accuracy. It is important to remember that finding antibodies after seroconversion, which is what this test does, is not intended for people who have recently been exposed to HIV. In order for this test to yield a positive result, the body must have had enough time to produce antibodies to be detected by the test. The time necessary for the creation of antibodies may vary, and it may take up to three months or longer for one’s body to create enough to be detected by the test. This is why the test may yield false negatives if the body has not created enough antibodies yet. It is precisely for this reason that repeat testing is essential. Repeating the HIV Antibody Test at least three months after it was initially done is the best way of confirming that your body is indeed free of HIV.
*HIV Early Detection Test
This test can detect the presence of HIV as early as six days after being exposed to it. However, it is generally recommended that one wait at least 21 days after exposure to take the test. The HIV Early Detection Test is more accurate and quicker than the HIV Antibody Test.
Once the test results become available, we take great care in having a physician contact you if it is positive. After discussing your situation, our physician will provide advice on what the next steps should be and address any additional testing or treatment that needs to take place.
What is “Confirmation”?
For all positive results, there is an additional test performed to confirm the initial positive outcome. This test is done with blood from the initial draw and at no additional cost, but it helps confirm that the results are accurate.
When should I get tested for HIV?
It is recommended that you wait at least 21 days after possible exposure to take the HIV Early Detection Test. However, the HIV Antibody Test is better when at least 12 weeks have passed since possible exposure. This lapse is better known as seroconversion or “the window period.”
What do the HIV Testing results mean?
A positive result for one of the HIV tests discussed above means the following:
There is a possibility that you are positive for HIV and you need to have confirmation through further testing.
You should engage in safe sex practices to prevent infecting others.
A negative result means the following:
Antibodies were not detected in the blood at the time of the test.
You need to be tested again after a suitable period to confirm the absence of antibodies.
Will I die if I test positive for HIV?
A positive result for HIV indicates that the virus lives in your body and you may develop AIDS. You do not have AIDS necessarily, nor are you going to face mortality immediately. Even though scientists have not developed a cure for AIDS, there are several options available to help manage the condition, including therapy. There are many people with HIV whose life has been vastly improved by these therapies.