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What Are My Options for HIV Blood Testing?
Posted: May 3rd, 2016 at 05:05PM
Testing for HIV is stressful, and trying to figure out the best for you can cause even more stress. Although the most common blood HIV tests are all very accurate in their results, they all have different incubation periods and ways that the tests are run.
So what is an incubation period? The incubation period is the time between exposure to a pathogen and the time that a specific test can detect an infection. During the incubation period, antibodies and/or antigen levels may be too low in the blood sample to detect the infection. For example, if a test has an incubation period of 3 months and you are testing 2 months after the exposure, the test will most likely be unable to pick up the infection. A test can be run before the incubation period has passed, but you should then be retested after the incubation period has passed.
You should also know which subtypes of HIV are being tested for in the test you choose. HIV-1 is the most common and widespread type of HIV in the world. HIV 2 is less common, less aggressive, and found mostly in areas of Western Africa. Although HIV-2 is much less common and pathogenic, both HIV-1 and HIV-2 subtypes can progress to AIDS.
The following discusses the types of tests offered at e7 Health locations. If you are using another testing location, check their specific testing types, incubation times, limitations, and result times.
HIV 1/2 FOURTH GENERATION TEST
Tests for: HIV 1 antigen (detects the active replicating HIV virus) and HIV 1 and 2 antibodies (detects antibodies that your body has made against HIV infection).
Sample type: Blood draw
Incubation period: 2-6 weeks. If test is performed before 6 weeks, test should be repeated after 6 weeks.
Time to results: Typically 2-3 business days for negative results (at e7 Health). Tests results that need additional testing, such as a preliminary positive result, will require extra processing time by the lab.
INSTANT HIV 1/ 2 TEST
Tests for: HIV 1 and 2 antibodies (detects antibodies that your body has made against HIV infection).
Sample type: Either capillary blood draw (a drop of blood from a finger prick) or blood draw from your vein. If additional testing is needed, a blood draw will be needed.
Incubation period: 3 months. If test is performed before 3 months, test should be repeated after 3 months.
Time to results: 15-20 minutes for negative results (at e7 Health). Test results that need additional testing, such as a preliminary positive result, will require extra processing time by the lab.
EARLY DETECTION HIV TEST
Tests for: HIV 1 RNA (detects the virus itself). This test shows current, active infection only.
Sample type: Blood draw
Incubation period: 9-11 days. If test is performed before 11 days, test should be repeated after 11 days.
Time to results: Typically 3-5 business days for negative results (at e7 Health). Tests results that need additional testing, such as a preliminary positive result, will require extra processing time by the lab.
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