HIV Antibody Test

Other names: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody test; AIDS test; HIV serology; AIDS screen

The HIV antibody test is carried out to detect the presence of HIV antibodies, which are produced by the body after it has been exposed to the HIV virus. Antibodies are usually detectable 4 weeks after the individual has been exposed to the virus.

HIV is a very serious condition, which develops and turns into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome); it causes the immune system to disintegrate and leaves the body highly susceptible to illness and infections.

When is the test used?

The test is used to diagnose HIV; testing is important because early diagnosis and treatment can help to prolong a person’s life and offer them better quality of life. It is also important for patients to know if they are HIV positive so that they can take necessary measures to prevent passing the infection on to other people.

How is the test done?

The test is performed by taking a sample of blood from the arm; a needle is inserted into a vein in the arm (usually on the inside of the elbow) and the blood is drawn out and collected in a syringe. Once the doctor has a sufficient sample, the blood will be bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for analysis.

The test is usually ordered when patients have been exposed to the HIV virus or they may have been in a situation where they could have been exposed to the virus; for example, if a patient has had unprotected sex. Tests are also carried out routinely and are recommended for anyone who has had unprotected sexual intercourse; tests are also recommended for pregnant women (and women who are planning to conceive), health workers and people who inject drugs.

What do the test results show?

If the test is positive for HIV antibodies, the individual will be diagnosed with HIV; healthy people do not have antibodies for the HIV virus.

Specific Blood Tests

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