Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome HIV Testing

There are a variety of ways to test for HIV infection. Not all individuals who are HIV positive will also test positive for AIDS.

HIV tests detect one or more of the following:

  • Antibodies to HIV:
  • Viral p24 antigen test:
    • Used for very early detection in cases of blood contamination
  • Viral nucleic acid testing:
    • Used for very early detection in cases of blood contamination

Antibodies to HIV
The two types of HIV antibody tests are the:

The ELISA is a screening test: it is reported as positive or negative. The ELISA test may be falsely positive in:

The Western blot test is used to confirm HIV infection in someone who is ELISA positive. If the Western blot is negative (and remains so for 6 months) HIV infection is not present.

p24 Antigen Testing
HIV antigen tests detect the p24 antigen, which is a protein that is produced by the HIV virus. This test is used to:
  • Help in the diagnosis of AIDS
  • Monitor the response to treatment
  • Early detection of HIV virus in blood donors
  • Detect the presence of HIV in the blood of newborns, born to mothers who have HIV

Viral Nucleic Acid Testing
Nucleic acids are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. The HIV nucleic acid test detects the presence of HIV nucleic acids. This test is used to:
  • Monitor the response to treatment
  • Early detection of HIV virus in blood donors
  • Detect the presence of HIV in the blood of newborns, born to mothers who have HIV

Continue to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Treatment

Last Updated: Nov 9, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome References
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