Antibody/antigen tests are the most commonly used tests. They can show positive results typically within 18–45 days Trusted Source after someone initially contracts HIV.
These tests check the blood for antibodies and antigens. An antibody is a type of protein the body makes to fight an infection. An antigen, on the other hand, is the part of the virus that activates the immune system.
These tests check the blood solely for antibodies. Between 23 and 90 daysTrusted Source after transmission, most people will develop detectable HIV antibodies, which can be found in the blood or saliva. These tests are done using blood tests or mouth swabs, and there’s no preparation necessary. Some tests provide results in 30 minutes or less and can be performed in a healthcare.
OraQuick HIV Test.
Home Access HIV-1 Test System. After the person pricks their finger, they send a blood sample to a licensed laboratory. They can remain anonymous and call for results the next business day.
If someone suspects they’ve been exposed to HIV but tested negative in a home test, they should repeat the test in three months. If they have a positive result, they should follow up with their healthcare provider to confirm.
HIV is a variation of a virus that infects African chimpanzees. Scientists suspect the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) jumped from chimps to humans when people consumed infected chimpanzee meat. Once inside the human population, the virus mutated into what we now know as HIV. This likely occurred as long ago as the 1920s.
HIV spread from person to person throughout Africa over the course of several decades. Eventually, the virus migrated to other parts of the world. Scientists first discovered HIV in a human blood sample in 1959.
How to Identify?
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The person’s immune system reacts to the antigens (parts of the virus) by producing antibodies (cells that fight the virus). The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after infection. If a person takes an HIV test during the window period, it’s likely they’ll receive a negative result. However, they can still transmit the virus to others during this time. If someone thinks they may have been exposed to HIV but tested negative during this time, they should repeat the test in a few months to confirm (the timing depends on the test used). And during that time, they need to use condoms to prevent possibly spreading HIV.
- swollen lymph nodes
- general aches and pains
- skin rash
- sore throat
- upset stomach
What to Do?
The most common way for HIV to spread is through anal or vaginal sex without a condom. This risk can’t be completely eliminated unless sex is avoided entirely, but the risk can be lowered considerably by taking a few precautions. A person concerned about their risk of HIV should:
Get tested for HIV. It’s important they learn their status and that of their partner.