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What should I know about HIV Tests?

STDcheck.com offers two FDA-approved HIV tests: The HIV RNA Early Detection Test and the HIV Antibody Test. The HIV RNA Early Detection Test looks for HIV’s genetic material directly in the blood. Our HIV RNA Early Detection Test can detect the HIV virus as soon as 9-11 days after exposure. We are the only testing service with an HIV RNA Early Detection Test that uses RNA technology. The HIV 4th Generation Antibody Test screens the blood for HIV antibodies that the body develops to fight off the virus. If HIV antibodies are found, then a confirmatory Western blot test is performed to be sure of the results. Both our HIV RNA Early Detection Test and our HIV 4th Generation Antibody Test require a small blood sample and take only a few minutes to complete. Review our HIV Testing Options page for more information.

The HIV RNA Early Detection Test

The HIV RNA Early Detection test can detect recent HIV exposure quickly and accurately. Our HIV RNA Early Detection Test can detect HIV as early as 9-11 days post-infection and may be used before the body has developed enough antibodies to combat the virus. If the test result is negative, the HIV RNA Early Detection Test does not have to be repeated. A positive test result is indicative of acute (new) or primary HIV infection.

The HIV 4th Generation Antibody Test with Reflex to Western Blot

The "gold standard" for HIV screening, the HIV 4th Generation Antibody Test is most commonly used to detect the virus. The test is 100% sensitive in terms of accurately identifying HIV antibodies, which typically take anywhere from 2-3 weeks after exposure. Most people will develop detectable antibodies within this time frame. We do recommend retesting at the 3 month mark for conclusive results. In addition to detecting HIV antibodies, this HIV test also detects HIV p24 antigens. HIV p24 antigens are viral proteins that make up most of the core of the virus. Blood serum concentrations of p24 antigens are high in the first few weeks after infection; therefore tests sensitive to p24 antigens are useful for diagnosing very early HIV infections when antibody levels are still low. A negative test result means that no HIV antibodies were found (although follow-up testing is still recommended). If the result is positive, then a Western blot confirmatory test is automatically performed. Some individuals may be initially reactive (HIV-positive) during the preliminary test and indeterminate or non-reactive (HIV-negative) by Western blot, although such cases are extremely rare.

HIV Test Results

After taking an HIV test, the results are emailed in 1-2 days. People who test positive will be given a free phone consultation with a doctor who will discuss further treatment options. While a positive HIV result indicates that you have been infected with the virus that leads to AIDS, it does not mean that you have AIDS. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for HIV, but it can be effectively managed with medication and therapy.