5 Types Of HIV Tests & How They Work

doctor holding hiv test tube

We need to get more Black people tested for HIV. Period. Testing is critical for prevention of HIV in Black communities, particularly for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV. But, with so many tests available, how do you know which option is best for you?

Below is a breakdown of available tests from Aids.gov:

Antibody Screening Test (in the Lab)

The antibody screening test (or the immunoassay) is the most common HIV test. It doesn’t test for the virus directly and instead, looks to see how much antibodies your body produces to fight against HIV.

What to Consider: Even though the test can be done on blood or oral fluids, it’s most effective on blood. Also, oral fluids don’t include saliva.

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OraQuick In-Home HIV Test

The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test gives you results right at home. You swab your mouth for an oral sample and then test it yourself. You can have results within 20 minutes.

What to Consider: A follow-up test is required if you test positive, and one in 12 people may get a false negative.

Rapid Test

Just like its name suggests, the rapid test provides results in 30 minutes or less. It’s also an immunoassay, which tests for antibodies.

What to Consider: Although the rapid test is a viable option, a lab test performed on blood may detect infection more quickly.