There are many different types of HIV test. Some need blood samples, others are done on saliva. The best test depends on your situation. However one of the most important things to consider is the incubation or window period. This is how long it has been since the incident of concern and the date of your test. With HIV testing, accurate testing is available from just 10 days, but you must choose the right HIV screening test.

The most accurate HIV Screening test is a fourth generation HIV test, or the HIV Duo test. It is called the HIV Duo as it looks for HIV antibodies and antigens. This makes it usually the best HIV Screening test. This test is suitable from a minimum of 28 days after you were potentially exposed to HIV.

If it have had a more recent exposure, then you need an Early Detection test. This is a PCR test which looks for the actual HIV in your blood. This test is accurate from just 10 days after exposure.

Lab Technicians perform STI Screening Tests
Lab technicians perform STI Screening tests

Other HIV tests include: the 5th Generation test which reports on the HIV 1, HIV 2 and p24 antigen separately. It is useful for helping to determine when you caught HIV; and the HIV instant test for results in just 20 minutes.

What if my HIV Screening test is positive?

Your first HIV test in your sexual health screen, is a screening test. A diagnosis of HIV is not make on one test. So further testing will be done if your first test is positive. This is called having a reactive test. Further testing is then done by different methods before it can be said whether or not you have HIV. These other methods include the Western Blot test, ELISA Testing (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) . If these tests come back negative, then you do not have HIV.

If these tests come back positive then you will be referred to an HIV specialist. They will do further testing including an HIV viral load test. This will help to determine what medication you need.

Choosing the right HIV test is really important. It means that you are choosing the most accurate test possible,so that you can be confident in the result. Your sexual health advisor can help you to choose the right test for you. Make sure you are honest about when you may have last been exposed.

Anthea Morris, co-founder Better”Know

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