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HIV test: Commonly-used HIV ELISA tests detect the antibodies produced by the immune system in response to HIV, as it is much easier (and cheaper) to detect antibodies than the virus itself. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to an infection (antigen). For most people, it takes 3 months for anti-HIV antibodies to develop. In rare cases, it can take up to 6 months. During this period of early infection a person is at their most infectious.







HIV test after possible HIV infection

Generally, it is recommended that you wait 3 months after possible exposure before being tested for HIV. Although HIV antibody tests are very sensitive, there is a window period of 3 to 12 weeks, which is the period between infection with HIV virus and the appearance of detectable antibodies to the virus. In the case of the most sensitive anti-HIV tests currently recommended, the window period is about three weeks. This period may be longer if less sensitive tests are used.

In the window period, people infected with HIV have no antibodies in their blood that can be detected by an HIV test. However, the person may already have high levels of HIV in their body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk).

Be careful:

The HIV infectuion can be passed on to another person during the window period even though an HIV test may be negative.

The negative for HIV testing result


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A negative test result means that no HIV antibodies were found in your blood at the time of testing. If you are negative, make sure you stay that way: learn the facts about HIV transmission and prevention avoid engaging in unsafe behaviour.

Remember that there is still a possibility of being infected, since it can take up to three months for your immune system to produce enough antibodies to show infection in a blood test. It is reccommended to be re-tested later, and to take appropriate precautions in the meantime. During the window period, a person is highly infectious, and should therefore take measures to prevent any possible HIV transmission.

Can I tell someone is HIV positive just by looking at them?

No, this is not possible. A HIV positive person (someone infected with HIV) may look healthy, but they can still pass the HIV virus to you. A blood test is the only way a person can find out if he / she is HIV positive.


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“Basic Facts about HIV Testing”

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