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Getting Tested for HIV

Updated on May 9, 2011

A subject that I think anyone and everyone should be aware of and should understand a little more clearer is HIV testing. I mean, it’s a subject that many young people do not know or understand, except for the slightly touch on the subject during middle and high school, and when they get tested to find out that they are HIV positive, their world to the subject definitely opens.

But, anyway… It’s not just young people that need to be aware of it, but everyone, really. It’s just that many young people are more promiscuous in the bed than older people. It’s just casual sex amongst friends and strangers that end in a positive test that changes their lives forever.

Although, it can be a nerve racking feeling, getting an HIV test is pretty simple and should be stress-free. There is no shame in getting tested for HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease. That being said, below you will find the proper tests for HIV and counseling help.

HIV Tests

The HIV tests are pretty simple. Basically, the blood, saliva, or urine is tested for the human immunodeficiency virus by testing for HIV antibodies, antigens, or RNA. The problem comes when the tests give a false negative, which is basically when the test reads negative for antibodies even if HIV really is present in the body.

Typically, you will run into the false negative reading during the window period which is after the first three weeks and before the first six months. Although most people develop antibodies against the virus after about 30 days, not everyone does. Because doctors cannot determine how fast you develop antibodies, you want to just make sure that you get tested every six months if you are having casual sex with different partners just so that you can get a proper, more accurate testing.

If you have X-linked agammaglobulinemia, you may have false negative results, and in this case the doctor can perform other tests in order to determine your true results.

Flickr Image by Avoir Chaud
Flickr Image by Avoir Chaud

What are the Tests for HIV

There are three different tests that can be run. They include the following.

1. The ELISA test, or enzyme immunoassay (EIA),

2. The Western Blot procedure

3. Rapid or point-of-care tests – this test should still have clinical diagnosis because it alone cannot conclude that the person is HIV negative 100%

Types of Rapid or Point-of-care tests include:

  • OraQuick: an antibody test that tests blood, plasma, or saliva. The fluid is mixed in a vial with a solution and the results can be read in about 20 minutes from a sticklike testing device.
  • Orasure: an antibody test that uses mucosal transudate from the tissues in a person’s gums and cheeks, after the ELISA and Western Blot tests have been performed.
  • Clearview Complete HIV 1/2 and Clearview HIV 1/2 Stat-Pak: tests HIV1 and HIV 2 in blood, serum, or plasma with results in about 15 minutes.
  • Urine Test: that uses the ELISA and Western Blot methods
  • Home Access Express HIV-1 Test: an FDA approved home test where the person mails a drop of blood to a lab and gets results and counseling over the phone.

You may also encounter a few other tests, to include:

  • P24 Antigen test: which really isn’t used that much anymore but it tests for the P24 protein of HIV.
  • RT-PCR test: a nucleic acid test that processes the viral RNA from a person’s plasma
  • Quantiplex bDNA or branched DNA test: another nucleic acid test that processes the plasma

The CD4 T-cell count is another procedure that is commonly associated with HIV testing. Although, it does not test for HIV, it does determine the number of T-cells that you have, as generally the lower your count the more likely that there is some kind of infection.

HIV Counseling and Help

If you or a friend needs help with coping with the initial shock of a positive HIV test, or maybe you just want to find out more information, you can check out the following website so that you can further your education and possible find someone to talk to.

Just remember if you want to have a true HIV consult, you should learn the basics of HIV infection risks and prevention, as well as condom use and the importance of getting tested.

Remember that this is your life that you have in your hands, and you want to take care of it. Get tested ealy so that you can explore all of your options for your future.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed physician, and if you think that you may have HIV, consult your doctor so that you can get a proper HIV test. Not all at-home tests are as accurate as you would hope.


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    • france1982 profile image

      france1982 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I think it is a useful hub. Beside, I have just read the stats related to Lets Talk About Sex film: "Every day in America, 10,000 teenagers catch an STD, 2,400 young girls become pregnant, and 55 young people are infected with HIV."...

    • profile image

      Geoege Maris 8 years ago

      Great discussion, It's important to put emphasis on the Window Period of test results.I'm sure you are aware of this time. This is possibly meant by a false negative. If A person put themselves at risk for HIV, it can take up to 6 months for the antibodies to develop.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Important information presented very clearly. Thanks.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks Anna

      SweetiePie, I had a speaker in high school that talked about it. One lady gave the medical facts, and the other spoke of having HIV. Or they were the same lady, I forget. But either way, I think it's important and people should have speakers every year in high school and in some health classes in college, if need be.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      This is great advice for everyone and people should read this article. I took a health class in college where we had a speaker share with us how she contracted HIV from her husband, so all couples should be tested, and single people should get test on their own just to know for sure. Thanks again for the informative hub.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 9 years ago from Florida

      Very informative hub on an important topic! Great job! I think everyone should read this!!!