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HIV blood test

Most people are already aware that the most commonly used screening method for HIV aids testing involves the use of an HIV blood test. Though newer forms of testing have emerged in recent years, testing the blood remains the most consistent way of avoiding false positives. Many people who have had unprotected sex or who believe that they may have come into contact with the virus often have questions about when, where, and why they should obtain an HIV blood test. If you are one of those people, you have come to the right place.

Why the blood?

There are several very good reasons why most doctors prefer to rely upon the standard HIV blood test for HIV, but they can all be summed up in one word: antibodies. An examination to determine positive contact is actually an HIV antibody blood test. What the test is looking for is not the actual virus itself, but rather the antibodies that are produced by the immune system in response to the virus’ presence. The reliability of HIV antibody test methods has been confirmed by many studies, making this oldest of testing methods the most trusted among medical professionals.

When to test

One of the major dilemmas facing the health care industry as it continues in its efforts to gain the upper hand against HIV has to do with the failure of large segments of the population to obtain an HIV blood test on a regular basis. Even those who obtain such a test once often fail to repeat the testing in later years – even when they have been exposed by unprotected sexual activity. Some seem to think that they are invincible since they tested negative at their first HIV test. Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The fact is that a test for HIV may be negative at the initial testing, but a subsequent HIV blood test taken months later can often reveal that earlier results were incorrect. To understand how an HIV blood test could produce different results after only a few months – even when the subject has refrained from risky behavior – one need only look at the way in which the body reacts to the presence of HIV. The fact is that it can take anywhere from a month to a year for the body to produce antibodies. Obviously, a blood test for HIV performed a month after exposure is not conclusive. For that reason, follow up HIV antibody test procedures are necessary.

Where to get tested

Obtaining an HIV blood test is a fairly routine matter for most people. Hospitals, clinics, and independent doctor’s offices across the nation perform these tests regularly. Depending upon where you live, you may even be able to obtain an HIV blood test at no cost. Something called a rapid HIV blood test is also available in many areas, though its efficacy is debated by many health care professionals. Because it can produce results within minutes of taking the HIV blood test, the rapid HIV blood test is beneficial for providing a quick – albeit inconclusive – first evaluation as to whether HIV is present in the body.

Get tested

An HIV blood test is an essential first line of defense for anyone who might come into contact with an HIV infected individual. The fear and ignorance that has kept so many people from getting an HIV blood test in the past has given way to a new level of understanding about the importance of such tests. Though the HIV virus remains a serious health concern, the fact is that medical advancements in the form of new treatments have reduced or eliminated many of the reasons most people previously had for avoiding an HIV blood test.