A Complete Guide to HIV Testing

HIV testing is the cornerstone of the conversation around HIV/Aids. We are huge advocates of getting tested regularly and immediately if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. Here’s everything you need to know about HIV testing so you can stay prepared and informed.

WHO should get tested for HIV?

According to the CDC, it is recommended that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested¬†in their lifetime. However, if you are a high risk for HIV infection, you should be getting tested annually. People who are high risk include those who have unprotected sex without knowing their partner’s HIV status, sharing needles, having an STD, or having intercourse with someone who practices any of the mentioned risk behaviors.¬†Pregnant women, and those women who are considering pregnancy, should also be tested regardless of their last HIV test.

WHAT are they types of HIV tests?

When people talk about HIV testing, it’s generally used in a very generic way. However, there are actually three main types of HIV tests that you can get. These tests vary in how soon they are able to detect an HIV infection and how they are administered.

  1. Antibody tests: this HIV testing method uses antibodies in blood or fluid from the mouth to test for HIV. This test can usually detect an HIV infection with 3 – 12 weeks after exposure as that is how long it typically takes for the body to make enough detectable antibodies.
  2. Combination tests: this HIV testing method uses a combination of both antibodies and antigens to test for HIV. An antigen is a part of the virus and this test can usually detect an HIV infection within 2 – 6 weeks.
  3. Nucleic acid tests: this HIV testing method looks for HIV in the blood. It’s the fastest HIV test available with the ability to detect an HIV infection within 7 – 28 days of exposure.

WHERE can you get tested for HIV?

Your primary care provider is able to assist you with HIV testing. If you don’t have one, hospitals, medical clinics, health centers, and other AIDS organizations can help you get tested.

WHY should you get tested for HIV?

Because knowing your HIV status is important and essential in keeping yourself and others safe. Regardless of the results, getting tested is the first step in taking a stand for your health.

If you would like to more about HIV testing visit Aidsinfo.org.

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