General Information

HIVtests is a test to determine the presence of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) antibody in Human Blood. HIV is the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

HIV is found in body fluids–blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk–and can be transmitted from person to person through unprotected sexual activity, sharing contaminated needles, blood transfusion, mother to baby in pregnancy and breast feeding, or any way that involves contact with the blood of an infected person.

When a person has become infected with HIV, the body produces antibodies to the virus. For most people, these antibodies can be detected in a blood test by the time 2 to 12 weeks have passed since the exposure. In some cases, it can take up to 6 months. For this reason, it is very important to be aware that a negative (-) HIV test after a potential exposure may not mean an absence of HIV infection.

People truly infected with HIV have the viral infection for the rest of their lives and can infect others even when they appear healthy and perfectly well. The risk of transmission of HIV can be reduced or prevented by taking certain precautions.

Repeated testing at 12 weeks and 6 months is very important and highly recommended.

This period of time between transmission of the HIV virus from one person to another and when the HIV can be detected by a blood test is called the “window period”.

A positive (+) HIV test does not necessarily mean that the person tested has AIDS. However, people infected by HIV can develop AIDS.

A positive (+) HIV test absolutely must be followed by a more sensitive test for HIV–Western Blot or PCR*. This test is available through a doctor, clinic, or public health office and is required to confirm whether the person is infected with HIV or not.

Occasionally, a person who has not been infected with HIV may have a positive (+) HIV test. This is called a biological false positive test, and it occurs with other tests for sexually transmitted diseases as well. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to have a confirmatory HIV test (Western Blot or PCR test) through your doctor or other health care provider.

It is customary to retest these people at regular intervals to insure that they really do not have a very early HIV infection.

*PCR: Polymerase Chain Reaction assay

The benefit of knowing you are truly HIV negative (-) is that appropriate measures may be taken to prevent infection in the future. It may be necessary to retest periodically to confirm test results or if further high-risk exposure occurs.

The benefit of knowing you are truly HIV positive (+) is that appropriate treatment is now available which may prevent or delay progression of the disease, and measures may be learned to prevent infecting others.