Getting an HIV test can be an overwhelming experience. If you don’t understand your test results, then the process can be even more nerve-wracking. For instance- does non-reactive HIV mean? Are these tests positive or negative? Do I need to test again? We’ll break it down in the article below.
What is a Non-Reactive HIV Result?
A non-reactive HIV result means that your test sample did not contain HIV antigens or the antibodies that the test looks for. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is HIV-negative. While the person might very well be negative, they might also have tested at the wrong time for their body. Thus, it’s important for these people to get another test to confirm their diagnosis. If possible, tell medical professionals the exact date of your exposure, or as close to the date as you can remember. This will help them determine whether or not you need to re-test.
Understanding the Testing Window
HIV tests work by checking a person’s blood or saliva for antigens or antibodies. However, these antigens/antibodies take time to multiply and show up on a test. Therefore, if a person tests too early, their tests results will not be accurate. The testing window varies deepening on the test. However, most tests cannot detect the infection until 18+ days after exposure.
What to Do If You’ve Been Exposed
If you’ve been exposed to HIV, go to a hospital or clinic immediately. If you are HIV-negative, then there are emergency medications that you may be able to take in order to prevent infection. While taking these medications, you will need to avoid certain activities, such as breastfeeding or having unprotected sex. Be sure to follow the doctor’s exact instructions, and always ask for clarity if you have any questions.
Furthermore, the hospital or clinic will help you determine the best time to get tested after your exposure. Share as much information as you can with medical professionals in order to get the best advice.
Working With an Infectious Disease Doctor
Looking for more information? An infectious disease specialist can help. Call Dr. Sharaf Diwan for infectious disease care in Houston, TX.