Two Types of Tests
- The only way to know if you have a HIV is to get a test.
- HIV tests detect antibodies in either human saliva or blood.
- When the individual is initially infected, the immune system creates antibodies to try and remove the virus from the body. Detection of these antibodies is how we know whether a person is HIV positive or not.
- The virus is present in such small quantities in saliva that it cannot be detected. However, if the individual is infected with the virus there is an abundance of antibodies that will be present.
- These antibodies are also present in the blood.
- In most states and in the District of Columbia, parental permission is not required even if you are a minor.
- They can only release your results to YOU.
Anonymous versus Confidential Tests
- Anonymous tests: You enter the testing center and give any name. For instance you can enter and say your name is “Santa Claus”, and after 20 minutes they ask “Santa Claus” to enter the back room to receive his results.
- Confidential tests: You give your name and information, but it is illegal for the center to give the results to anyone (including your parents) but yourself.
NOTE: The laws vary from state to state. Please ask the testing center about your rights as a patient once you enter.
There are certain diseases that are reportable in the United States. This means that doctors have to report to the Departments of Public Health that this disease has been diagnosed.
- These sexually transmitted infections are chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV.
- Doctors are mandated to report these diseases to the government, so we may track the prevalence (how many) and incidence (new cases) of these diseases.
False Negatives and False Positives
- A false negative is defined as when you test HIV negative for the virus, but you are actually HIV positive.
- This commonly occurs when people get a HIV exam immediately after they are exposed to the virus.
- During the first 3 months, the human immune system builds antibodies against the virus. If you get a test before 3 to 6 months after exposure there is a high likelihood that a false positive will occur.
- A false positive is when you test HIV positive, but you are actually negative.
- The saliva test has a 2% error rate so if you test positive they will give you a blood test to determine if you are actually HIV positive.
- If they do not suggest it, you should request a HIV blood test.
ADVICE: If you feel you have been exposed, please go to the doctor immediately. The doctor can test you for other sexually transmitted infections, and monitor when you should come back for the HIV test.
Importance of Testing
- There are many sexually transmitted infections that can be cured with antibiotics. If you do not take care of these diseases they can have harmful effects on your body.
- Not being tested will NOT change your status!
- In the United States, it is optional for pregnant women to get tested for HIV. All pregnant women should be tested because you do not want to pass HIV to your child during birth or breast-feeding.
- If a pregnant woman knows her status, she can take medication during her birth to dramatically reduce vertical transmission during birth, and avoid breast-feeding.
- You can protect the people you love by taking the proper precautions not to transmit it to someone you love.
For instance, if Chlamydia is left untreated in females it can lead to infertility.
Get Tested, It Is Easy:
- Test taken with an oral swab.
- Available in 30,000 pharmacies, grocery stores, and online retailers as of October 2012.
- It is not meant to replace medical testing, positive results should be verified
- You must be 17+ to purchase.