STDcheck.com Get Tested My Account
Quick & Confidential STD Testing - STDcheck.com!
1-800-456-2323 24/7 Support My Account

HIV Testing & Treatment

On This Page: Testing Info | Types of Tests | Where to Test | When to Test | Results | Treatment

How Do You Know You Have HIV?

The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Because many people don’t have any symptoms for years after infection, you can’t tell if you have HIV just by the way you feel. Getting tested is recommended for all adults, and it’s quick, easy, and almost painless.

HIV is most commonly diagnosed through antibody testing of blood.1 However, it can take your body about 3 months, or even longer, to produce enough antibodies for a test to recognize. Quicker tests check for both antibodies and p24 antigens (a protein that makes up most of the HIV viral core), or look directly for the genetic material of the virus itself. These tests can recognize infection sooner after exposure, allowing for swift treatment and transmission prevention.2

Take Charge of Your Health

Today, about 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV. One in eight people living with HIV don’t realize they are infected. HIV is a serious disease that can lead to death if untreated. Take charge of your life and order our quick & confidential HIV test.

Put Your Mind at Ease Today

or call 1-800-456-2323 or start a Live Chat

Why Is HIV Testing Important?

Knowing your HIV status empowers you with information to keep yourself and your partner(s) healthy and safe. Left undetected and untreated, HIV can damage your immune system and progress to AIDS. As the body struggles to fight off infection and diseases, the virus makes you more likely to suffer from serious or even life-threatening conditions.

Getting tested is an important part of identifying HIV infection as early as possible so that you can limit its health complications and its spread to other people. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):3

  • About 15% of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. don’t know they have the virus.
  • Nearly 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people unaware they are infected.
  • Many HIV infections are transmitted in the earliest stage of HIV (acute infection).

If a test shows you are HIV negative:

Your results can put your mind at ease. You can continue to be proactive about preventing HIV through measures like using condoms during sex. If you’re at high risk, you may benefit from taking daily medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV.

If a test shows you are HIV positive:

Once you are aware that you have HIV, you can begin taking the necessary steps to protect your health. The sooner you start treatment, the more you benefit from it. Although there’s currently no cure for HIV, consistent treatment can help you live a longer and healthier life.

Who Should Get Tested for HIV?

Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to HIV should consider taking an HIV test. Most commonly, HIV is spread through vaginal or anal sex or sharing needles or syringes. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once. If you’re at a higher risk, you should get tested more often.

Symptoms of HIV infection may include:

  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Skin rashes and sores
  • Night sweats
  • Chronic diarrhea

Learn more about HIV symptoms.

You should get tested at least once a year if one or more of the following risk factors applies to you: 

  • Being a sexually active gay or bisexual man. Some sexually active men who have sex with men may benefit from more frequent testing (every 3 to 6 months).
  • Having sex with an HIV-positive partner
  • Sharing needles, syringes or other drug-injection equipment
  • Exchanging sex for drugs or money
  • Having another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis, or tuberculosis (TB)

If you have had sex with someone any of the above risk factors or someone whose sexual history you don’t know, consider getting tested. Before having sex with a new partner, you should talk about each other’s sexual and drug use history and HIV status– which getting tested can verify. Even if you are in a committed relationship with a single partner, it’s worth finding out for sure if either of you has HIV.

Should Pregnant Women Get Tested for HIV?

Yes. The CDC recommends all pregnant women get tested for HIV. If you do have HIV, starting HIV treatment can protect your health and also lower the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby.

Types of HIV Tests

There are three types of tests used to diagnose HIV infection:

  • Antibody tests detect the presence of antibodies, proteins that your body produces against HIV, not HIV itself. The presence of antibodies indicates if you have an HIV infection. It usually takes about 3 months for your body to make enough antibodies to be detected.

HIV tests that look for antibodies can be done by blood, oral fluid, or sometimes urine. Because blood has a higher concentration of antibodies than any other bodily fluid, blood tests are the most accurate antibody tests used to diagnose HIV.4

  • Antigen/Antibody tests detect both HIV antibodies and antigens. Antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to react. If you get HIV, an antigen called p24 is present even before your body develops antibodies, and high levels are present in the blood of newly infected individuals. This means combination antigen/antibody tests allow for earlier detection compared to tests that only look for antibodies.
  • Nucleic acid tests (NATs) look for the actual virus in the blood. Although they are more expensive, NAT tests can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests.

Where Can You Get Tested for HIV?

You can get tested through a doctor, clinic, or one of our 4,500+ convenient laboratory testing centers nationwide. Through STDcheck.com, you can order HIV testing online and then get tested at a reliable and certified lab, no appointment required.

Which HIV Tests Do We Offer?

Through STDcheck.com, we offer two types of HIV testing:

  • Fourth-generation HIV test: an antigen/antibody test that detects antibodies to HIV Type 1 and Type 2, as well as p24 antigens.
  • HIV RNA test: a NAT test that looks directly for the genetic material of HIV-1. It’s used for early detection or to rule out the chance of a false-positive fourth-generation result.

How Soon Can You Get Tested for HIV?

Each test differs in how soon it can detect infection. No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection. If you believe you have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, you should ask a doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away, to prevent becoming infected.

Fourth-Generation HIV Test

Most people produce enough antigens and antibodies for fourth-generation/combination tests within 2 to 6 weeks to accurately detect infection.

HIV RNA

The HIV RNA test can detect HIV infection as early as 9-11 days after exposure.

How Our HIV Tests Are Performed

Both the Fourth-generation HIV test and the HIV RNA test are by blood sample. A lab technician will draw blood from a vein in your arm. Your blood sample will then be examined for signs of HIV infection.

What Do HIV Test Results Mean?

Fourth-Generation HIV Test

  • Non-reactive/Not detected: No antibodies or p24 antigens have been found, indicating you don’t have HIV or you have tested too early (see recommended window period).
  • Reactive/Detected: Antibodies and/or p24 antigens have been found, indicating you may have HIV. Follow-up testing may be included to differentiate between HIV type 1 and/or type 2 and confirm results.

HIV RNA

  • Non-reactive/Negative result: No genetic material of HIV-1 has been found, indicating you don’t have HIV or you have tested too early (see recommended window period)
  • Reactive/Positive result: Genetic material has been found, indicating an HIV type 1 infection

What Should You Do If You Test Positive for HIV?

If you test positive for HIV, you should follow up with a doctor, even if you don’t feel sick right now. Getting medical care and treatment with HIV medicine as soon as possible is the best way to stay healthy for many years.

Although we don’t currently offer HIV treatment through STDcheck.com, results can be printed/downloaded from the online account to take to a healthcare provider. From there, a healthcare provider can perform follow-up testing, assess health and the progress of the infection, and plan and monitor treatment accordingly. It’s also important that anyone diagnosed with HIV communicate their HIV status to their current and past sex partner(s) and anyone they’ve shared needles with, so these people can get tested as necessary and take steps to stay healthy.

Treatment Options

There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but doctors use a combination of five classes of medicines that can control the virus and help people with HIV live longer and healthier lives. The medicines used to treat HIV are called antiretroviral therapy (ART).

ART works to:

  • Reduce the viral load
  • Slow the progress of HIV to protect your immune system
  • Reduce or even stop the risk of HIV transmission to sex partners

How Does Treatment Work?

Getting and staying on HIV treatment reduces the amount of HIV present in your blood. The goal of ART is to lower the level of HIV in your blood to an undetectable level and keep it undetectable. People who have an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of spreading HIV to a partner during sex.5 This is commonly known as U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable).

Sticking to your HIV regimen as part of your everyday routine is very important. By taking your HIV medicines consistently every day as prescribed, you can keep your immune system stronger and help prevent drug resistance.

When Should You Start Treatment?

Everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after diagnosis. Delaying treatment can allow the virus to continue to harm your immune system, putting you at risk for developing AIDS, which can be life-threatening.

Living with HIV

Testing positive for HIV can be scary and difficult. But with the proper treatment and support, people with HIV can have long, fulfilling, and healthy lives. Maintaining a balanced diet and regularly exercising can also contribute to the success of antiretroviral therapy.

If you have HIV, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you are not alone. There are many resources that can help you find a health care provider, pay for medicine, find affordable housing, and get help with mental health issues. Talk to your doctor about maintaining your treatment plan and any concerns you have about your regimen and lifestyle, as well as ways to prevent transmission and keep your partner(s) safe, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis.

  1. “HIV Diagnosis.” University of California San Francisco. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/hiv/diagnosis
  2. “New CDC Recommendations for HIV Testing in Laboratories.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/2014/hiv-testing-labs-flowchart.pdf
  3. “HIV Testing.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/index.html
  4. “Screening and Diagnosis for HIV.” MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003538.htm
  5. "HIV Treatment." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/treatment.html

Medically Reviewed by on February 10, 2020


STD Test Pricing

Fast, Private & Affordable
Our panels are carefully designed by our physicians to provide you with complete peace of mind.

See Prices & Packages
STD Test Recommender

What should I get tested for?
Find out what test is right for you using our personalized Test Recommender.

Get Recommendation
Wistia video thumbnail