Which test is most accurate for AIDS

Overview of HIV tests

There are different types of HIV tests. All of them have their advantages. This overview shows which test is suitable. There is of course the possibility of getting advice on the choice of test, for example from AIDS organizations or test centers.

the essentials in brief

  • HIV laboratory test: Here the blood sample taken is sent to the laboratory, a result is usually obtained after a few days. A positive test result is confirmed directly in the laboratory. You can safely rule out an HIV infection with the laboratory test after six weeks.
  • Rapid HIV test: Rapid tests have the advantage that you get a result after a few minutes. However, a positive result must be confirmed in the laboratory. An HIV infection can only be ruled out with certainty after 12 weeks.
  • HIV self-test: Self-tests are a form of rapid test and can be carried out independently, for example at home. However, the usual test advice is no longer available.
  • Submission test: Submission tests are tests that are used regularly at home. The samples are sent to a laboratory and the result is communicated via SMS or phone. This enables a regular test for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases without great effort. The submission tests are currently being tested in a pilot project in Germany. Further information: www.samhealth.de
  • PCR tests: The PCR test detects HIV directly. It is mainly used to control HIV therapy. However, he can also prove an HIV infection, even one to two weeks after a possible infection. However, it costs at least 100 euros and has to be paid for yourself for this type of application.

An HIV test is usually an antibody screening test. That is, he looks for antibodies against HIV in the blood. Antibodies can be detected with a laboratory test no later than six weeks after infection, with a rapid test after twelve weeks at the latest.

If a fresh infection is suspected, however, test procedures can be used beforehand that directly detect the virus or virus components.

You can prove with certainty that you are not infected, i.e. that you are HIV-negative, with the laboratory test after six weeks, with the rapid test after three months.

HIV laboratory test

For a laboratory test it will Blood from the crook of your arm removed and sent to a laboratory. A doctor must be present at the time of acceptance. Modern HIV laboratory tests look for both antibodies and a specific component of HIV. In order to be able to detect this component, the amount of HIV in the blood must be very high. This is only the case shortly after infection or if the immune system is poor (for example in the AIDS stage).

If you want to prove an HIV infection, you can use an antigen-antibody test as early as two weeks after an HIV transmission risk.

However, the test can safely rule out an infection only six weeks after the last risk. This is the maximum time it takes for sufficient antibodies to be formed for detection.

If the laboratory test reacts, a confirmatory test will be carried out in the laboratory.

You have to wait a few days for the result of the laboratory test.

Rapid HIV test

For rapid HIV testing, only a little will go Blood from the fingertip needed. Rapid tests provide a result quickly, that is, after a few minutes.

Rapid tests can prove an HIV infection as early as three weeks after infection.

However, rapid tests can definitely rule out an infection only twelve weeks after the last risk.

As with laboratory tests, a positive result must also be ensured with a confirmatory test for rapid tests. To do this, blood is taken from the crook of your arm. It takes one to two days before the result of the confirmatory test is available.

HIV self-test

HIV self-tests or home tests are rapid tests that are approved for use by laypeople. You can take the test comfortably and alone at home. Something is going to happen Blood from the fingertip removed and placed in a test device. The result can be read off after a few minutes.

Here you can find detailed information about the HIV self-test.

HIV submission test

For the HIV submission test, you register online (www.samhealth.de) and choose one of 13 s.a.m health checkpoints. Then you have a short consultation by phone and receive a package with test materials in the mail. You take something at home Blood from the fingertip to check for HIV and syphilis. In addition, you take a urine sample and use a cotton swab to take samples from the throat, anus and / or vagina to check for gonococci (gonorrhea) and chlamydia. The samples are sent to a laboratory in a prepaid envelope. You will receive the results a few days after sending the samples from your s.a.m health checkpoint. If all samples are negative, you will be informed by SMS; if the samples are positive, you will be asked to call back. s.a.m health is suitable for people who need regular tests for HIV and STI. You will receive - depending on how you want it - every 3, 6 or 12 months a reminder by SMS whether you would like to have another test kit sent. You do not enter into a commitment. The first test kit currently costs 59 euros, each subsequent test kit 49 euros, plus shipping costs.

PCR test

The PCR test does not look for antibodies, but for HIV itself.

It is mainly used to check whether an HIV therapy is working. This is the case when the drugs prevent HIV from multiplying to such an extent that viruses can no longer be detected. With the most sensitive PCR tests one can measure an amount of virus from 20 copies per milliliter of blood serum.

The PCR test can also be used as a confirmatory test of a reactive antibody screening test. If he measures more than 1,000 HIV copies per milliliter of blood serum, the result is confirmed.

The PCR test can also be used on newborns. In the first 18 months, antibody screening tests in babies of mothers with HIV are always reactive, even though they are probably not infected themselves. The reason: the babies have antibodies from their mothers' blood.

PCR tests are usually not suitable for excluding HIV infection. Only a laboratory, rapid or self-test should be used for this.