A brief note on HIV testing


HIV tests are used to detect the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), in serum, saliva, or urine. Such tests may detect antibodies, antigens, or RNA.

Tests used for the diagnosis of HIV infection in a particular person require a high level of both sensitivity and specificity. In the United States, this is achieved using an algorithm combining two tests for HIV antibodies. If antibodies are detected by an initial test based on the ELISA method, then a second test using the Western blot procedure determines the size of the antigens in the test kit binding to the antibodies. The combination of these two methods is highly accurate.

The HIV antibody tests that are performed are as follows: Window period, ELISA, Western blot, Rapid or point-of-care tests, Interpreting antibody tests.

A combination, or 4th generation assay, is designed to detect both the p24 antigen and HIV antibodies in a single test. Combination tests can detect HIV as early as 2–6 weeks after infection, and are recommended in laboratory testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least one HIV test for everyone ages 13 to 64 years. Yearly testing is recommended if an individual is at higher risk of infection. The CDC recommends that sexually active gay and bisexual men consider testing every three to six months.

Consider HIV testing yearly and before having sex with a new partner if an individual:

  • Have had unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with more than one sexual partner or with an anonymous partner since your last screening
  • Are a man who has sex with men
  • Use intravenous (IV) drugs, including steroids, hormones or silicone
  • Have been diagnosed with tuberculosis or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as hepatitis or syphilis
  • Exchange sex for money or drugs
  • Have had unprotected sex with someone who falls into any of the above categories

Also consider getting tested if an individual:

  • Have been sexually assaulted
  • Are pregnant or planning to get pregnant

People with HIV who are aware of their status can get HIV treatment (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) and remain healthy for many years. Studies show that the sooner people start treatment after diagnosis, the more they benefit from ART. Treatment with ART reduces the amount of HIV in the blood (called viral load), reduces HIV-related illness, and helps prevent transmission to others. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to HIV-negative sex partners.

If an individual who get tested and learn they don’t have HIV can also make decisions about sex, drug use, and health care that can protect them from HIV. For people at risk for HIV, taking HIV medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is highly effective for preventing HIV.

Thanks and Regards


Managing Editor

Journal of HIV and Retrovirus

Email ID: Retrovirus@eurorendezvous.org