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STD Testing: What Can I Expect During An HIV Test?

January 8, 2018
std testing

Up to 3 million patients visit urgent care centers every week in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. These reasons include immediate care, medical tests, and STD testing.

STD testing, especially HIV testing, is critical for slowing the spread of infection to others. An early diagnosis of HIV can slow the progression of the disease to AIDS with early treatment.

Americans between the age of 13 to 64 are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to receive HIV testing with a health care provider. But what can you expect during an HIV test and what kind of tests are there?

STD Testing: What To Expect During Your HIV Test
Like an STD test for hepatitis, you can expect to have your blood tested during an HIV test. Although a sample of your cells can also be taken using a swab along the inside of your cheek, blood testing is more often used.

A medical professional at an urgent care clinic or medical center will then check your blood for the presence of HIV antibodies. However, it should be noted that it can take anywhere between three to 12 weeks for HIV antibodies to become noticeable.

This doesn’t mean you should wait three weeks to seek treatment. In fact, it may be in your best interest to ask a health care provider about Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, which may reduce your risk of HIV infection after initial exposure.

Different Tests, Same Results
There are a variety of screening tests to detect HIV. However, regardless of the type of testing you use, a positive diagnosis after an initial and follow-up test means you’re HIV-positive.

Some of the most common HIV tests include:

  • Rapid HIV testing
    ┬áThis test requires a prick of blood from your finger. Your blood is tested for HIV antibodies. You may receive results within 20 minutes. These tests work best if it’s been over three months since you suspect initial HIV exposure.
  • Third generation HIV test
    This test looks for specific antibodies your body produces to destroy the HIV virus. These antibodies can be found in your blood, urine, or saliva. This test also works best if it’s been over three months since you suspect initial HIV exposure.
  • Fourth generation HIV test
    This test looks for HIV antibodies as well as p24 antigens, which are part of the HIV virus. This test is reliable after one month since initial exposure.

STD testing is always a good idea whether you’re worried about infection or not. Early detection can keep the disease from progressing and causing harm to you and others. For more information on STD tests and what you can expect, visit your local STD testing sites today.