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Home HIV Tests, Rapid HIV Tests and How They Work

By HERWriter Guide
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AIDS / HIV related image Photo: Getty Images

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and can ultimately lead to death by AIDS. Since the early 1980s, millions have died worldwide from the virus and millions continue to do so, especially in developing nations. In developed nations, living with HIV, rather than dying of AIDS, is far more common.

According to Avert (Averting HIV and AIDS) about 33 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with the majority in Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 1.5 million people are living with HIV in the United States and about 18,000 people die of AIDS in the United States every year. Unfortunately, the rate of global infection is on the rise as is the rate of infection for gay men in America.

Experts believe that many people in the United States have an undiagnosed HIV infection. People do not get tested because they are unaware of the possibility of infection, because they don't care or want to know, or because they are too afraid to go to a doctor's office or clinic to get tested. This is where home HIV tests come in and can offer someone a fast and anonymous way to find out their HIV status.

The home HIV test works by testing the blood for HIV antibodies -- a positive result means that these antibodies have been found in the blood and the person being tested is therefore HIV+. A negative test means there were no antibodies found, therefore the person tested is HIV-.

A person can also get an Indeterminate result which means the test could not confirm or deny the presence of HIV antibodies. This may be due to antibodies just entering the system (meaning the person has been recently infected but too recently to be confirmed on a test) or that they may have another medical condition that is causing the test to fail. It can also mean they are negative.

For this reason, it's important that a person who thinks they may have been recently infected abstain from sex until they have a test. Most people have acquired the antibodies in three to four weeks. However, HIV can take up to three to six months to be found via a home HIV test.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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