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How Accurate is an HIV Early Detection Test?

Testing for HIV in a lab

With today’s advanced medical technology, early detection of HIV allows for a normal life expectancy and reduces the need to drastically change your lifestyle. However, any concerns about HIV should be addressed as soon as possible in order to reduce any adverse health effects. 

An HIV early detection test is used to diagnose HIV infection, which attacks the body’s immune system, specifically white blood cells known as CD4 cells. HIV destroys these cells, lowering an individual’s resistance to infections such as tuberculosis and even cancer. The early infection detection test will identify the infection and allow you to take control before it escalates.

Now, what about the accuracy of the test? A HIV early detection test is 98% accurate if taken 10 days after exposure. The results will be more indicative depending on the type of test. For example, if your sample is sent to a laboratory, the accuracy is higher.

In this blog, we will look at the early stages of the detection of HIV and what to expect after an early detection test. Keep reading and learn more

How Accurate is an HIV Early Detection Test?

According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, there were 37.7 million HIV-positive people on the planet in 2020. This large number suggests that a significant number of people are being tested. So, thanks to early detection of the infection and antiviral treatments, the vast majority of HIV-infected people do not develop AIDS after 8-10 years.

Types of HIV Tests

We’ve described the various types of HIV tests and their predicted accuracy below so you can decide which is best for you.

Rapid PCR HIV Test

The PCR HIV test provides accurate results 10 days after exposure, allowing you to receive diagnosis and treatment sooner. The accuracy for this test, which is solely based on rapid results, is 98.2% accurate.

HIV Blood Test (Antigen Test)

An antigen HIV test involves a blood sample being sent to a laboratory for testing. This HIV test detects the HIV infection 18 to 45 days after exposure. Results which are 99% accurate are usually available within a few days.

HIV Home Sampling Kit 

This type of HIV test requires you to collect a saliva sample or a small spot of blood at home and post it to a specified lab for testing. You will be contacted by phone or text with your results after a few days. If you’ve been infected for a while, this type of home sampling test will be 99% accurate. However, if you have recently been exposed, they may not be as trustworthy, it’s suggested you wait around 90 days before testing. 

Rapid HIV Home Testing kit 

The rapid HIV home testing kit is also self-administered, which means you collect a saliva sample or a small spot of blood and test it at home, but the results are available in minutes and are 99.7% accurate. As previously stated, if you have recently been exposed, these tests are not as reliable.  It’s recommended you wait 90 days before opting for one of these tests. 

Where To Go For a HIV Early Detection Test

The HIV early detection test is now available through a variety of services. The majority of these are free, but the main advantage of a private HIV early detection test is that it is a more discreet and confidential service that will not appear on your medical records. The only people who will know your results are you and us, and we take confidentiality very seriously.

Other benefits of a private sexual health clinic includes: 

  • No waiting time 
  • Minimal stress
  • Talk to a qualified clinician
  • Accredited laboratory  
  • Secure online portal 

What Happens if the HIV Detection Test Comes Back Positive?

If your HIV detection test comes back positive, we’re here to  guide you through the next steps and suggest what you can do to feel more in control.

If your test results come back positive, make an appointment with your GP. This session will include a thorough examination of your health and medical history, a body examination, and a swab test. During this appointment, HIV treatments will be thoroughly explained to you and you will be guided to make the best decisions for yourself and those around you.

Related Questions

Can I Test Too Early for HIV?

Unfortunately, there is no rapid test available to detect HIV after direct contact or shortly after infection. The minimum date we recommend for obtaining a test which will deliver an accurate test result is 10 days. This result can be collected through the early detection test.

There is, however, a medical treatment known as Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which is an anti-HIV medication prescribed to an HIV negative person within 72 hours of potential HIV exposure.  This medication should be taken within 24 hours of exposure and for a total of 28 days.

The PCR early detection test is still available for accurate results after 10 days of exposure, reducing the anxiety associated with having to wait for long periods of time for standard HIV tests.

How Long Can You Live With HIV Without Knowing?

Unless you have been specifically told that you have been in contact with someone who has HIV, it is common for HIV infections to go undetected. Due to the absence of symptoms, HIV is also known as an asymptomatic HIV infection. It’s expected that within around 10-15 years that’s when your HIV is likely to develop into Aids.

If you’d like to find out more about the symptoms that might appear when you first contract HIV, read our recent blog: What is Usually the First Sign Of HIV?

Discreet HIV Testing From Your Sexual Health 

Your Sexual Health is a sexual health service run by sexual health professionals available to take your call or meet with you during an appointment. If you are concerned about anything HIV-related, please contact us. It is better to ask than to sit and worry.

The services below are some of the HIV tests Your Sexual Health privately carries out: