A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.com
AIDS InfoNet www.aidsinfonet.org
Fact Sheet Number 102
WHAT IS HIV TESTING?
HIV testing tells you if you are infected with
the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
which causes AIDS. These tests look for
“antibodies” to HIV. Antibodies are proteins
produced by the immune system to fight a
Other “HIV” tests are used when people
already know they are infected with HIV.
These measure how quickly the virus is
multiplying (a viral load test, see fact sheet
125) or the health of your immune system (a
CD4 count, see fact sheet 124).
HOW DO I GET TESTED?
In September 2006, the US Centers for
Disease Control recommended routine HIV
screening of people in healthcare settings.
This should result in more general HIV
testing in the US.
You can arrange for HIV testing at any
Public Health office, or at your doctor’s
office. Test results are usually available
within two weeks. In the US, call the
National AIDS Hotline, (800) 342-2437.
The most common HIV test is a blood test.
Newer tests can detect HIV antibodies in
mouth fluid (not the same as saliva), a
scraping from inside the cheek, or urine.
“Rapid” HIV test results are available
within 10 to 30 minutes after a sample is
taken. One of these tests has produced a
high rate of false positives. A positive
result on any HIV test should be
confirmed with a second test.
Home test kits: You can’t test yourself for
HIV at home. The “Home Access” test kit is
only designed to collect a sample of your
blood. You send the sample to a laboratory
where it is tested for HIV.
WHEN SHOULD I GET TESTED?
If you become infected with HIV, it usually
takes between three weeks and two months
immune system to produce
antibodies to HIV. If you think you were