A rapid test (HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo test) that can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens is available. This test can detect an HIV infection earlier than other tests available. It also can tell whether an HIV infection is new or is established.
After initial testing, it is important for your
doctor to contact you with the results of your test. Be sure to tell your
doctor how and where to contact you. If your doctor has not contacted you
within 1 to 2 weeks of your test, call and ask for your
The ELISA is a good screening test, because it is usually
positive when an HIV infection is present. But the ELISA test results can
indicate HIV is present when it is not (false-positive). So the ELISA alone cannot be used to
make a definite diagnosis of HIV infection. No one is considered HIV-positive
until he or she has a positive Western blot, IFA, or PCR test.
Detecting HIV in a newborn infant is difficult. Until about 18
months of age, even a baby who is not infected may still have HIV antibodies
received from his or her HIV-positive mother. A PCR test may be done to see if
HIV genetic material (RNA or DNA) is present in the baby.
certain that an HIV infection is not present, a person must test negative for
the virus at least 6 months after the last possible exposure to HIV. Testing is
often done at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months to find out whether a person is
Two types of home test kits for HIV have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If the results from a home test kit show that you have an HIV infection, talk to a doctor. And keep in mind that these test kits sometimes may show that you have HIV when you don't (false-positive result) or may show that you don't have HIV when you do (false-negative result).
One test kit (called OraQuick) gives you the results right away. For this test, you rub your gums with a swab supplied by the kit. Then you place the swab into a vial of liquid. The test strip on the swab indicates if you have HIV or not.
Another type of test kit for HIV is a home blood test kit. This
kit provides instructions and materials for collecting a small blood sample by sticking your finger with a lancet. The blood is placed onto a special card that is
then sent to a lab for analysis. You can find out your results over the phone by using an
anonymous code number. Counseling is also available over the phone for people
who use the test kit.
If you have a
positive test result, contact your sex partners to inform them. They may want
to be tested. You may be able to get help from your local health department to
A screening test for HIV infection may also be done on urine
or saliva. An oral HIV test finds antibodies to HIV. Urine testing is rarely
Oral test kits that find HIV-1 and HIV-2 in saliva have been
approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The test
results are provided the same day. Test results that show an HIV infection
need to be confirmed by a Western blot test.
Most states require
health professionals, clinics, and hospitals to report confirmed cases of HIV
infection to the state health department. Some states allow anonymous reporting
(the person's name or other identifying information is not provided). Other
states require confidential reporting (identifying information is provided but
only to authorized public health officials). All states must report the numbers
of cases of AIDS, without names or other identifying information, to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
After an HIV infection is present, other tests are done to
determine when to treat the infection and how treatment is working. These tests
include a CD4+ count and the viral load.