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 some home tests, but only the Home Access Test has been approved by the FDA. That test kit can be found at most local pharmacies or online. The testing procedure involves pricking your finger with a special device, placing a drop of blood on a specially-treated card and mailing in the card for testing. You are given an identification number to use when you phone in for the test results – three days or two weeks later, depending on the one purchased.
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 one is HIV positive.
Posted in: Testing