Rapid HIV testing is one of the most popular tests at Himerus health STI clinic. It can be added on to a routine STI screen for instant peace of mind regarding HIV. Sometimes patients do not want to wait the 3-5 days for their HIV result and want reassurance then and there.
So what exactly are rapid HIV tests and what does the test entail?
Rapid HIV tests consist of a blood sample being taken from the ante-cubital fossa (mid arm). 2 drops are then placed on a cassette and 2 drops of reagent is added. After 10 minutes a line should appear in the control window, this indicates the test has accurately worked ( very much like a pregnancy test). If two or three lines appear then the test is positive, if only the one line appears at ‘c’ the test is negative. This is a HIV antibody test, HIV antibodies are made by people that come into contact with HIV antigen. The length of time that a person takes to make antibody after being exposed to antigen varies depending on the nature of exposure to the virus, the amount of virus they were exposed to , the persons genetics and their own immune system. Most people will begin to produce antibodies between 2-8 weeks post exposure to HIV, it is largely accepted that by 12 weeks all patients will have antibody produced. However to double check, when you have the rapid HIV test a sample is also sent to a laboratory for 4th generation antigen/antibody testing which can detect HIV virus from 1 week post exposure. Although the large majority of patients can have reassurance when they test it is recommended that all patients retest 12 weeks post any significant HIV exposure to get the all clear.
It is a very rewarding part of working at Himerus Health to be able to very quickly reassure anxious patients. Any who are diagnosed HIV positive can be counselled by HIV experts and follow up can be arranged.