A blood test is the most common way to HIV Diagnose. These tests look for antibodies to the virus that your body makes to fight the virus. People exposed to the virus should be tested immediately, but it may take six weeks to a year for the body to develop antibodies to the virus.
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Early testing is very important. If you test positive for the virus, you and your doctor will discuss and develop a treatment plan that can help fight HIV Diagnose and ward off complications. Early testing also can alert you to avoid high-risk behavior that can spread the virus to others. Most health care providers offer HIV testing, often with appropriate counseling. Anonymous and free testing also is available. During testing, your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history and risk factors, and perform a physical examination.
HIV and AIDS testing
The main tests used to diagnose HIV and AIDS include:
- ELISA Test ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay and is used to detect HIV infection. If the ELISA test is positive, a Western blot test is usually done to confirm the diagnosis. If your ELISA test is negative but you think you may have HIV, you should be tested again in 1-3 months. Although ELISA is highly sensitive in chronic HIV infection, it can be negative within a window of weeks to months after infection because antibodies are not produced immediately after infection. You may test negative during this period, but you may have high levels of the virus and be at risk of spreading the infection.
- Home Tests The only Food and Drug Administration-approved home test from the United States is called the Home Access Express Test and is sold in pharmacies.
- Saliva test Saliva is collected from the inside of the cheek with a cotton swab. Pads are placed in vials and sent to the lab for testing. Results come out in 3 days. A positive result should be confirmed with a blood test.
- Viral load test This test measures the amount of HIV in your blood. It is commonly used to monitor treatment progress and for early detection of HIV infection. Three techniques for measuring HIV viral load in blood:
- Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), branched DNA (bDNA), and nucleic acid sequence-based amplification assays (NASBA). The basic principles of these tests are similar. HIV is detected using a DNA sequence that specifically binds to the viral DNA sequence. It’s important to note that different tests may give different results.
- Western Blot This is a highly sensitive blood test used to confirm a positive result of an ELISA test.