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When to get tested for confirmed HIV results?

Despite all the advances in HIV testing and widespread awareness about how to test for HIV,  HIV still remains a taboo. Advanced treatment with highly effective antiviral drugs has made it possible to live a near normal life with HIV. What is important in successful management of HIV is early detection and prompt initiation of drugs. Methods to detect the number of virus particles present in the blood stream have made it possible to detect  the progression of the disease early in the course and also to determine the extent to which the person can be infectious to others.

If you are thinking about getting yourself tested, here is all you need to know about how to test for HIV.

Today there are different types of HIV tests available in India. Each of the different tests vary in their accuracy, window period, time taken for obtaining results and also the cost. The window period of an HIV test is the time lapsed after infection with HIV, beyond which the test may become positive. Having learned that there are many different types of tests, let us go into the details of how to test for HIV.

Most of the times if one has shown risky behaviour in the past and fears having been infected with HIV, anxiety is so much that they would like to know their HIV status as soon as possible. The hassle of waiting for the test reports for a couple of days may be traumatizing. Besides, for purposes such as hospital based screening of a patient in view of a planned surgical procedure may also demand quick reporting tests for HIV. We will go into the details of rapid HIV testing and the scope of the test.

HIV Testing and Treatment Center in Chennai
Rapid HIV Testing Kit in Chennai

Rapid HIV test

Rapid HIV test is a card test which takes only about few minutes to give you the result. Thus called the rapid card test. It avoids a long and stressful wait for your report. It is the most accessible of the HIV testing methods and is the most commonly used screening test.

The rapid HIV test works by detecting the antibodies formed in your body against the HIV virus. Following an infection with HIV, a persons body takes at least 3-4 weeks to produce antibodies against the virus.Though antibodies do not succeed in eliminating HIV from the body,they are helpful in diagnostic tests.Therefore the rapid HIV test may become positive after 3-4 weeks of infection with HIV in about 90% of the people.It means that the window period of the rapid HIV test is anywhere between 3-4 weeks and  within than time 90% of the HIV infected people develop enough antibodies against the virus, so as to be detected by the test.

The accuracy of the Rapid HIV test is comparable to the standard ELISA test. If one tests negative for HIV by rapid card test, no further tests need to be done. If the rapid HIV test results are positive further confirmatory tests may be required.

Now that you know that each test has a window period, You may have on your mind questions such as how soon can HIV be detected by a blood test? There are few tests which make early detection of HIV possible. Read on to know methods of early detection of HIV.

Early detection of HIV

If you have had a recent exposure to HIV and want to get clarity on your HIV infection status at the earliest, there are a few tests which can be done as early as 2 weeks after possible infection.

HIV PCR / NAT

It is a test which can detect HIV infection as early as 9-11 days post exposure. It detects the RNA which is the genetic material of the HIV virus in your blood. The cost of the test is very high. As it is based on detection of the viral genetic material, antibody production in the body against HIV is not necessary before the test becomes positive. It takes about 4-5 days before you can get the result of the test.

Even if the quantity of the virus in your body is small, the test can detect the presence of the virus as it employs a technology wherein the RNA of the virus is multiplied to many folds. Through this method even the viral load in the infected person can be detected.

As the test detects viral RNA and also quantifies it, the test is considered to be highly accurate.

when-to-get-tested-for-hiv-infection

p24 antigen test

It is a method of early HIV detection in which the p24 antigen or protein present in HIV is detected. It can detect HIV infection in about 16 days post exposure on an average. The window period of the P24 antigen test is between 1-8 weeks post infection with HIV and about 95% people infected test positive during that period. It takes about 4-5 days for you to get your report.

The drawback of the test is that the p24 protein levels decline after 5-6 weeks of infection and may not get detected despite being infected with HIV. It means that if 5-6 weeks have passed following infection, the test may give a false negative result.Therefore the test is ideal only for early detection of HIV infection,i.e. within 3-4 weeks of the potential exposure.

It is now clear that the earliest you can take an HIV test following exposure is after 2 weeks.

Standard HIV test/ ELISA test for HIV

The standard test for HIV is ELISA which detects the antibodies against HIV present in the persons blood. It takes atleast 3-4 weeks post infection for antibodies against HIV to develop.

ELISA involves the analysis of the reaction of antibodies present in blood with a HIV antigen containing sample. If the antibodies contained in the blood sample are found to have reacted with HIV antigens,it is a positive reaction. Sometimes it may happen that other nonspecific antibodies present in the blood sample may show a cross reaction with HIV antigen giving rise to a false positive result or a indeterminate result.

The present day ELISA kits have been adapted to detect both HIV-1 and HIV-2 strains of the virus. ELISA kits adapted for differentiating between HIV-1 and HIV-2 have also been developed and are in use currently.The importance of differentiating between the strains lies in the fact that the they behave differently with respect to progression and disease load.

If a person screens positive by rapid HIV test card ,ELISA test has to be performed for further confirmation of the screening test.It takes about 2-3 days to obtain the test results by ELISA method.

3rd generation ELISA

A 3 rd generation ELISA kit detects only antibodies against HIV.

4TH generation ELISA /combination kit /Antigen antibody test

The fourth generation ELISA kit detects both the p24 antigen and the antibody against HIV, in the infected persons blood. It is way more superior to the old 3rd generation ELISA kits. They are successful in detecting HIV infection within 3-4 weeks in most cases. It is costlier than the 3rd generation kits but less costly in comparison to HIV PCR tests.

Having done the above tests can your HIV status be confirmed? No, except for HIV PCR /NAT the tests mentioned above cannot be considered confirmatory test for HIV.You may be interested in what is the confirmatory test for HIV?

If you have tested negative for HIV by rapid card test or ELISA, you do not need any further tests.But testing negative for p24 doesn’t confirm your HIV negative status as the test may not detect the viral protein if it has been more than 5-6 weeks since infection with HIV. p24 antigen test is recommended only for early detection of HIV infection if the exact time of potential exposure is known.

If one tests positive for rapid card test or ELISA,they may need further testing to confirm the positive report. The confirmatory test for HIV is western blot.

Western blot for HIV

It uses electrical fields to separate protein molecules based on their sizes and charges. By this method the HIV specific antibodies are detected. In western blot test antigen antibody reaction is not involved. Hence, the possibility of antibodies against HIV reacting with antigens other than that of HIV and thereby giving a false positive result, is eliminated. False positive given by ELISA can be detected by western blot. Indeterminate results by ELISA also may be confirmed by western blot.

With access to advanced testing methods such as HIV PCR wherein the presence of virus can be confirmed and the viral load also can be quantified, western blot test is becoming obsolete as a confirmatory test.

After having gone through this article,are there are still more queries on your mind regarding how to test for HIV? If so,our HIV testing and counseling team is anytime approachable.

Pre-test counselling:

Our counselors with immense experience in handling HIV related issues will be available to speak to you and provide you with all the details that you require. The privacy and confidentiality of our clients is of utmost importance to us. The counselor will compassionately listen to your concerns and also prepare you psychologically to face the outcome of the test.If during the time of counseling it is known that the potential exposure was very recent, the option of post exposure prophylaxis will also be discussed with you. You will be referred to our experts if you express willingness to take post exposure prophylaxis.

Post exposure prophylaxis in HIV :

Post exposure prophylaxis drugs are given to people following potential exposure to HIV. It is given so as to prevent the development of HIV infection. It needs to be initiated within 72 hours of potential exposure to HIV and needs to be continued for 28 days for maximum effectiveness. It is effective when administered correctly but not 100% effective. So, you cannot be assured of not contracting HIV after post exposure prophylaxis.

Post test counseling:

The counselor will meet you again with your test reports. You will be explained in detail the meaning of the reports and advised on further tests if required. All our clients are treated with respect and compassion irrespective of the outcome of the test. If your results are positive, you will be guided through further confirmatory tests and referred to our medical experts for prompt and timely initiation of treatment. You will be provided psychological support and reviewed at frequent intervals.

100 Comments

  1. Hi sir,
    I am sundar… Am a bisexual guy… I did anal sex with my frd (receptive side). After the incidend I am having more fear because it’s my first experience…after took hiv eliza test after 37 days of incident and the result came as negative… Till am having Anxiety…kindly give a better solution

  2. Good morning Doctor,
    I had unprotected insertive vaginal sex for a few seconds, and was really scared after that. I took a fourth generation HIV duo test after 34 days of exposure.
    Result was (0.18) non reactive. Am I safe? Please help me, I’m very anxious doctor.

      • Good afternoon Doctor.
        I had unprotected insertive vaginal sex, and was really scared after that. I took a fourth generation HIV DUO test after 34 days of exposure. Result was:
        0.18 non reactive.
        My question is should I retest after 90 days? Can the result of my test change after 90 days? I’m really anxious to wait for so long! Please give me your valuable advise doctor.
        Thank you!

    • Hi Doctor I am sai ganesh , I have sex with unknown person with condom but end of the time after sperm out I do continuously girl pushed me then my condom stuck in her vagina I have doubt my mind can spread hiv or anything then I removed her condom from her vagina I asked her sperm come inside to vagina she said no but I have doubt doctor can I get STI ???or disases my sex yesterday any STD transmission Possible??

  3. Good afternoon Doctor. I wanted to know if a fourth generation HIV DUO test can be considered accurate and conclusive after 33 days of exposure? Have you personally seen anyone turn positive after a `Negative fourth generation duo test after 5 weeks´. I have read so many articles, but your valuable knowledge and experience will be trustworthy.
    Awaiting your response doctor, thank you so much.

  4. Good evening doctor, I had unprotected vaginal sex 30 days back. If I do fourth generation HIV DUO test now to check whether I have been infected, will the result be accurate? Waiting for your response.
    Thank you in advance. I am getting very anxious. Also, does circumcision reduce the risk of hiv transmission?

    • Rajesh, in many cases, by 30days the person will run a fever. You can get tested now but most accurate will be the test done after 90 days.
      Don’t stress yourself, get tested and if the result is negative, you should be good.

  5. Hello doctor, myself Sharath. I had unprotected vaginal sex, and after two days I got a sore throat, no fever. I was worried and waited for 34 days and did fourth generation HIV DUO test from metropolis to check if I got HIV. Result was non reactive. Am I safe doctor? It’s causing me a lot of stress.

  6. Hi doctor, I have too much anxiety thinking about hiv. I had unprotected sex for barely a minute with a girl.
    I did fourth generation test after 35 days, result was non reactive. The clinician there told me it’s not accurate till 90 days. Now I’m getting very tensed sir. Can my result change after 90 days? Please reply doctor. Thanks I’m advance.

  7. Good evening doctor,
    I had unprotected vaginal sex 3 months back. I was waiting for the window period to get over and did the HIV DUO fourth generation test now. Result was non reactive 0.22. Is this conclusive since it has been 3 months now since exposure? Or should I retest after 6 months?
    Thank you in advance,
    Kind regards.

  8. Hi doctor,
    I had unprotected sex with a girl about 4 months back. I want to get tested for all STD’s including HIV. Can you please tell me the name of the test that I should do? Is it a STD panel test? I stay in Chennai.
    Thank you Doctor!

  9. Hi doctor,
    I have too much anxiety thinking about hiv.
    . I had protected vaginal sex on 21st, 22nd and 29th June 2021
    I’m getting very tensed sir. Please reply doctor. Thanks I’m advance.

  10. Hello doctor… June 14 th … I was sex with a sexual work lady… Before a sex I weard condom to vaginal sex … I worried to much may cause HIV… I don’t sex with oraly…
    After 12 days I check with… Vdrl and HIV 1 AND HIV 2 antibody test for rapid card… That is negative… Some people said 90 days to check… I’m using condom sir…I’m What I do sir … I’m too much worried about this… Tell me a clear sollution sir please

    • You are good, don’t worry too much. When you worry too much, it puts stress in your brain.
      Natural tendency of people is to go to google for every damn thing. When you read about the symptoms, the stress will show all the symptoms in your body after 2 or 3 days and you will get more stressed.

      Don’t worry, you should be fine.

      • Sir I had sex with prostitutes with condom after one week I got mild fever body pains fatigue and I am worried about this symptoms plc tell me when to do blood test to get correct accurate result and I don’t why this symptoms are showing me now I had wear protection

      • Hi sir.. I had sex with before 15 days and I have used condom.. but still I have doubt. Even though I have tested after 10 days with hiv test kit..it’s showed negative. But still I’m fear about hiv..even though I have used condom. And I have seen the google about symptoms and I feeling Its happening me . Like fever and headache and little ithching my hand sometimes.. but after busy in work or other jobs it’s looking gone away.. pls give your suggestion..

        Headache also whenever drink tea or tablet it’s gone away..

  11. Sir June 14 th I was sex with sexual Works lady… Before sex I’m using condom … Is it safe?? And I worried too much … Can I have to take any further test … Or is it I am safe ? So please tell the clear solution doctor

      • Sir Iam not hard too make sex… So just 2 min with sex…its not possible to break the condom sir… And I no use to a long time sex… Just 2 min… So I am safe ah sir…

        Can I have to any other test sir

      • Sir I had sex with a prostitute with a condom , but I had done oral sex with her without her having condom. I am worried about getting std . What should I do please help me

        • Transmission of STD through oral route has some restrictions.
          You (if you have given oral), should have sores or open wounds or cuts around your mouth. If you don’t have such sores around your mouth, you are good.
          Chances of the woman having STD and you having sores around your mouth are very minute. However, please get tested, you should be safe mostly, but better to be sure than sorry.

  12. Good evening sir,
    I went to test for HIV ( Fourth generation test) after I finished my workout in the gym. Would this affect the outcome of my report? I tested after 100 days, and got non reactive 0.22.
    Please advise. Thank you in advance.

  13. Hello doctor… June 21st ,22nd and 29th… I was sex with a sexual work lady… Before a sex I weard condom to vaginal sex … I worried to much may cause HIV…I’m using condom sir…I’m What I do sir … I’m too much worried about this… Tell me a clear Sollution sir please

  14. Hello doctor… June 21st ,22nd and 29th… I was sex with a sexual work lady… Before a sex I weared condom to vaginal sex … I worried to much may cause HIV…I’m using condom sir…I’m What I do sir … I’m too much worried about this… and Can I have to take any further test … Or is it I am safe ? So please tell the clear solution doctor.

  15. Good evening Doctor,

    I had unprotected vaginal sex with a girl 4 months back. Today, I tested for hiv using HIV DUO, and the result was 0.22 non reactive. Should I test for other stds? I do not have any symptoms as of yet. Its been 4 months now. Please advise doctor,

    Regards,
    Shyam

  16. Good evening Doctor,

    I had unprotected vaginal sex with a girl 4 months back. Today, I tested for hiv using HIV DUO, and the result was 0.22 non reactive. Should I test for HEPATITIS? I have no symptoms, it’s been 4 months now. Or should I test for any other std?
    Regards,
    Shyam

  17. Hello doctor, i had sex on yesterday with transgender sex, no oral & no anal and i used condom. Now i stressed too much, fear of HIV .
    What should i do now.

  18. Sir I’m using condom before sex ..But I’m anxiety.after 87 days I tested for rapid card test negative.this test enough ah sir. I am safe sir

  19. Hi doctor. What is the window period for the hepatitis C Antibody test? I got myself tested after 4 months of unprotected exposure, and result was non reactive. Am I safe?

  20. Dear sir, thanks for your reply. Now 7days gone. Now am having slight head ache & fever symptoms , neck muscle also paining in back side. Its because of the rain here or seriously its effect of HIV.

    Please help.

  21. Sir before sex I’m using condom… But some anxiety from about my side… I don’t use any oral sex…

    Now after 36th day sample given healthian lab… They test for ( rapid immuno chromatography )… It’s non reactive … Can I take fourth generation test … Or it’s enough ah sir

  22. Hello Dr,
    What are the bands should one get in HIV western blot in order to consider it as Positive?
    Awaiting for your reply Doctor.
    Thank you.

  23. Hello doctor,
    I have tested positive for secondary syphilis and I got my HIV western blots results done .Both were done at the same day. I took western blot after 15 days from the date of exposure.The bands showing are gp160, gp120 and p31 (only these 3 bands) and no additional bands are present. Does it mean positive or indeterminate?
    Thank you Doctor.

  24. Sir Actually…when hiv test is conclusive??….How many days after the exposure??….some articles says 3 months & some says 6 month or one year……

  25. Sir I take 4th generation duo combo(CMIA) after 42th day … The result 0.06 non reactive sir… What I do sir am I safe sir… In my life

  26. I didn’t have an unprotected sex …….I didn’t even allow him to kiss …But he kissed on my lips ……..He rubbed his cock against my shorts ….I gave him a handjob…We hold our cock together ..Not head to head …But side ways …….Do i need to start with PEP?

  27. Hi Doctor,

    By a chance if the semen of an infected person came in contact with my skin(Hand) or in general if the semen gets in touch with the skin(apart from penis), do I need to worry about it? do I need to get tested for HIV? If yes after how many days I need to take the test from the day it happened and what test is necessary? In need of your advice in this doctor. Please do reply. Thanks in advance.

  28. Hi sir
    I had sex with unknown girl for 2mins with condom in this Feb month she gave me blow job without condom and unknowingly I made contact with her vagina thorugh my mouth.
    I did hiv 1 and 2 spot test after 4months and results are non reactive.
    I test for hiv by elisa after 4months and 5months(July end)and its results are non reactive .
    Bt I had symptoms like sore throat and white tongue for past 10days and falling hair for past 2months

    Other tests Hepatits b non reactive and vdrl non reactive..
    For herpes 1 and 2 values shows 0.4 in results it mentioned as negative but made in block letters

    Am I safe?

    Pls reply doctor.

  29. Good evening doctor. I wanted to know the window period for ANTI- HCV test. A lot is sites are saying 3 months after exposure and some are saying 6 months. Which is correct, please guide me?

  30. Sir kindly help me to save from anxity.
    After 35 days of exposure with a sex worker (unprotected ) i had done the test of
    Western blot
    Elisha
    VDRL
    HEPETITIS B
    …….

    All are negative …can it be turn to postive after 3 months …..
    Now i have anxity about the gentile herps , HPV …
    There are pain in my testicle….i don’t have fever from last 40 days…..
    Please suggest me what to do…..
    And what the tests should i have to done more.

      • Hi Doctor,

        I had unprotected oral sex with a sex worker and also had a condom slip a bit during vaginal sex. I started taking PEP from the third day (50th hour).

        How likely I’ll be catching up with the STD’s? It’s been 25 days now and I’m having some mild discomfort continuing throughout the day in my penis and testicles. Apart from that I don’t have any other trouble.

        I wanted to check with you doctor, can you please help!!

  31. I had protected sex with condom with 2 sex workers yesterday. The condo w as intact and I checked with water after the act. There was no damage of leak. Should I test for hiv. I’m anxious

  32. Good afternoon Doctor. I did the HIV DUO test 4 months after an unprotected exposure. Result was 0.22 non reactive. Do I need to repeat the test at 6 months? I also did HBSag, and ANTI HCV test. Both were non reactive. Should I repeat these at 6 months?

  33. I did protected sex with condom with csw and was so anxious that I tested for HIV on the 11th day after exposure with HIV qualitative RNA PCR test and result came non detected. I being a paranoid kind is still afraid. please provide your valuable advice sir.

  34. Hi sir.. I had sex with before 15 days and I have used condom.. but still I have doubt. Even though I have tested after 10 days with hiv test kit..it’s showed negative. But still I’m fear about hiv..even though I have used condom. And I have seen the google about symptoms and I feeling Its happening me . Like fever and headache and little ithching my hand sometimes.. but after busy in work or other jobs it’s looking gone away.. pls give your suggestion..

    Headache also whenever drink tea or tablet it’s gone away.. fever not always also mild only 30min fever after that’s I’ll be fine..

  35. Hi sir sep 29 2021 i had a unprotected sex with a trans women feeling annex now as i did erroneously as i was drunk at that time.. What should i do now feeling scared on that now

  36. Hi doctor ,I had a unprotected recieving oral sex from a sex worker , and I have not even experienced any other sexual intercourse with/without protection till now , Finally I got tested for HIV after 2years from the exposure ,I went for 4th generation test , result is negative and the index value is 0.06 non – reactive , is I am fine , should I need to get tested again for hiv.thank you doctor in advance , egearely waiting for your response doctor.

  37. When we calculates the hiv window period from the day of sex or from the day of completing the 30 days pep medicine? does pep delay elisa test window after 90 from day of sex occurs?

  38. Sir, I was unprotected sex on 28/08/2021. After I took Tri dot kit test non reactive on 25/09/2021. After wester blot test negative on 30/09/2021. I took test PCR qualitative test on 06/10/2021. Any possible This test result will change ?

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