Nucleic acid tests (NAT), antigen/antibody, and antibody are the 3 different types of tests available. Typically, HIV testing is done on blood or oral fluid, and it can be done on urine as well.
A NAT, which requires extracting blood from a vein, looks for the virus itself in the blood. The test can determine whether or not a person has HIV and the quantity of virus in their blood (known as an HIV viral load test). While NATs can detect HIV more quickly than other tests, they are very expensive. They are not commonly used for screening people unless they have recently had a high-risk exposure or a probable exposure and are showing early signs of HIV infection.
Both HIV antibodies and antigens are looked for in an antigen/antibody test. When your immune system is exposed to viruses such as HIV, antibodies are created. Antigens are foreign chemicals that elicit an immunological response in your body. Even before antibodies form in HIV patients, an antigen called p24 is generated. Antigen/antibody assays are now widely used in the United States and are recommended for laboratory testing. Blood is drawn from a vein in this lab procedure, and a finger prick test for antigen/antibody is also available.
Antibodies to HIV Aids are only found in your blood or oral fluid when you get an HIV Aids antibody test. Antibody tests go on blood from a vein and can detect HIV Aids before or after infection, and then tests work on blood from a finger prick or oral fluid. Antibody tests are the most common quick tests and the only HIV self-test currently approved.
Discuss which form of HIV test is best for you with your health care practitioner.
What is the period frame for getting results?
Blood is collected from your vein into a tube and submitted to a laboratory for laboratory tests (NATand antigen/antibody) testing. It can take some days for the results to appear.
The findings of a quick antibody screening test, which is often performed with blood from a finger prick or oral fluid, are available in 30 minutes or less.
A finger prick is used for the quick antigen/antibody test, which takes 30 minutes or less to complete.
Within 20 minutes, the oral fluid antibody self-test findings are available.
When can a test tell if I’ve been exposed to HIV and infected?
There is no way to identify HIV right after infection with an HIV test. If you believe you’ve been exposed to HIV in the recent 72 hours, see your doctor discuss post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
The window period refers to the interval between when a person may have been exposed to HIV and when a test can determine whether or not they are infected. The window period differs from one person to the next and is determined by the type of HIV test utilized. Inquire about the test’s window period with your doctor or a test counselor.
10 to 33 days after exposure, a nucleic acid test (NAT) can typically tell you if you have an HIV infection.
HIV infection may usually be detected 18 to 45 days after exposure with an antigen/antibody test done in a laboratory on blood from a vein. Tests using blood from a finger prick can take longer to identify HIV (18 to 90 days after exposure).
After an HIV infection, antibody tests might take anywhere from 23 to 90 days to detect. Antibody testing includes the majority of fast tests and self-tests. Antibody tests work on blood from a vein and can find HIV before or after infection, and then tests work on blood from a finger prick or oral fluid.
If an HIV test is negative after a possible HIV encounter, get tested again after the window period. Remember that you can only be confident you’re HIV-free if you:
The most recent test you took occurred outside of the window period.
During the window period, you haven’t had any possible HIV exposure. You will require to be retested if you have potential exposure.