The CDC recommends that Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 should get HIV tested at least once in their lifetimes. With that being said, many are wary of getting a false-positive HIV test result.
But do HIV tests really give false-positive tests? Why do they happen and what should you do once you get a false-positive test?
That’s what we’re here to look at today. Read on to find out more about false-positive results for HIV tests.
What is an HIV Test?
As you might have guessed, an HIV test examines whether or not you have contracted the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. There are three common types of HIV tests that are regularly used.
One is a nucleic acid test or NAT. It involves drawing blood from the patient to see how present the virus is in their system.
Another type of HIV test is an antigen/antibody test which searches for both antigens and antibodies in a person’s system. These are laboratory tests that also involve drawing blood.
There are also rapid antibody tests that detect antibodies for HIV in your blood or oral fluid. These rapid tests work best when using blood drawn from the veins as opposed to oral fluids or from a finger prick.
So are False-Positive HIV Tests Possible?
The short answer to whether you can get a false-positive HIV test is: yes, but it depends on the circumstance. There are several causes for false-positive tests. This involves both the timing and the type of test.
After someone contracts HIV, there is a window period for when a test can accurately detect the virus in the body. A person doesn’t produce antibodies to fight the infection right away, hence this grace period.
In other words, someone can test too early for HIV and get a false-negative or false-positive.
As mentioned before, you can get both an HIV lab test and a rapid, at-home test kit. The problem with rapid tests that we mentioned earlier is that many use oral fluids or blood from a finger prick.
These testing methods have been known to produce false-positives. While self-testers aren’t necessarily less accurate, the method by which you collect the sample affects the end result.
Some have reported getting a false-positive for HIV since they’ve contracted another STD or STI. As such, you should get STD testing done on top of your HIV testing just to be sure.
So What Should You Do?
If you are worried about a false-positive result, the best way to obtain peace of mind is through further testing. Testing for HIV often means testing more than once with the right time frame in mind produce better results.
Make sure you get a test done after giving yourself enough time after potential exposure. That way, you won’t risk getting another false-positive.
Prep for HIV Testing
Getting a false-positive HIV test result is always a possibility, but they are avoidable. Use this guide to help you understand how they occur and find the right methods to get the most accurate HIV test result.
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