There are several types of HIV tests, but the two most common types are blood tests and oral swab tests. Both forms have the same accuracy with their results. HIV blood tests use a sample of blood, either from a finger prick or a larger sample often taken from the inner arm, to test for HIV antibodies. Oral tests use a swab to collect cells from inside the mouth to test for HIV antibodies. Traditional HIV test results can take one to two weeks to come back from a lab, but rapid tests that can provide a result in about 20 minutes are widely available.
There are also at-home HIV tests. EPIC offers free, at-home test kits that consist of a simple oral swab and are processed in about 20 minutes. There is no need to mail the test back or wait weeks for results. A trained counselor will guide you through the process, explain the results and, if needed, connect you will the appropriate services.
Viral load tests are used by physicians to monitor their patients who have already tested positive for HIV antibodies. These are very costly and should not be used to determine if someone is HIV positive.
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