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Types of HIV Tests

There are several types of tests available that use a variety of methods to detect an HIV infection in the body. These tests screen either for presence of the virus or for the presence of specific antibodies that the body makes in response to the infection.

HIV Antibody Test – An Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) test or HIV Antibody test is used to detect antibodies in the blood against HIV. This test is very sensitive. If positive, this test is followed up and confirmed with a Western Blot (WB) assay.

RNA Test – This test looks for part of the virus’ genetic material in the blood. It is used to screen the blood supply and it is also used in early cases where infection is suspected, but antibody tests are unable to detect antibodies to HIV.

Rapid Test – This is a very quick test. Results are usually available in about 20 minutes. A sample is taken from blood or oral fluids and tested for the presences of antibodies to HIV much like the EIA Test. This test also needs confirmation with a test such as a Western Blot to make a definitive diagnosis of HIV.

Home HIV Test – There is currently one FDA approved Home HIV test kit on the market. The test uses similar methods to the tests previously described, but it can be performed at home rather, than at a public testing site. The blood sample is then sent to a lab for processing. Costs can range from $45 to $70, depending on whether you want results within 72 hours or if are willing to wait 7-10 business days to receive your results.


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