What the HIV Rapid Tests entail

It's disheartening to learn that there is still a stigma surrounding HIV. While the stigma continues, the good news is, more people are living pretty well with a positive diagnosis.

All thanks to technology!

The key to managing the HIV virus is to have early diagnosis, fortunately, it's now easier than ever to actually get a test for HIV.

HIV test is used to determine whether you have been infected with the virus or not and is commonly done on saliva or blood sample.

There are drugs that can prevent those exposed to the virus from getting infected, this only happens if the medication is taken early enough.

It is also important to note that there are both direct and indirect methods of detecting the virus. Direct methods detect antigens or RNA while indirect testing methods detect proteins rather than the virus.

There are different types of testing, most of which vary in accuracy and speed.

HIV rapid tests were first developed for use in the developing world in the early 1990s. Different countries have since used different uptake. Most countries have recommended the use of HIV rapid tests among the most exposed population.

 Features of a good HIV rapid test 

  • Specific and highly sensitive
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Easy to read and understand results
  • Non – invasive
  • Simple storage requirements

HIV rapid test is available at clinics and outreach clinics run by voluntary organisations.

The tests may also be offered at sexual health clinics but only to people with a high risk of infection, people with the urgency of their HIV status results and very anxious people.

With HIV rapid tests, a negative result is definite while a reactive result indicates the need for further laboratory testing.

One of the options for confirming a positive result is to take another rapid test from a different manufacturer, immediately if possible. If the second result is negative, the person may not be infected but if it still reactive the person is likely to be HIV positive, although a third test may be done.

HIV Rapid Testing

Rapid tests are the most affordable HIV testing since they do not require any specialists, they can be carried out away from clinics or specialized facilities and give the test results in less than half an hour.

Positive test results are followed by confirmatory tests, this is to clear any doubt, as substantial differences have been reported in the performance of different testing kits.

Options of Rapid HIV testing

Rapid point of care tests - This test is taken from samples of saliva, blood or even urine and the results are given back in less than 20 minutes.

Rapid at home tests - This test is easy to conduct and the testing kit can be bought online or at your nearest drugstore. It offers privacy and therefore encourages many people to take the test. The results are ready in around 20 minutes.

At home, tests are less sensitive than the point of care tests. However, it is important always to conduct a confirmatory test if the result is positive. This is because some diseases trigger a false positive result and may get you worried for nothing. The common diseases known to trigger the false positive results are lupus, syphilis, and Lyme. You should, therefore, go for STD testing before you take the rapid HIV test.

How HIV rapid tests work

Ultimately, almost all the HIV tests work the same way. This is because all the tests check for antibodies.

Rapid tests check for the body's reaction to the HIV virus rather than the virus itself. Each test detects the antibody at different durations after the exposure.

HIV Rapid Tests are more efficient sometime after exposure. This is to allow your body to produce enough antibodies, you can only get accurate results when your body produces the antibodies.

You need to be patient until the virus has replicated to a detectable level. This period is known as the windows stage. Otherwise immediately testing for HIV after exposure may give a false negative.

 Three easy steps on how the test works

Prick. The tiniest drop of blood

Suck. Collect enough amount of blood using the test kit

Poke. Push the collected sample on the bottom of the buffer pot

That’s it! You will have your results in about 15minutes.

 How often you should be taking HIV rapid tests

You should adopt a routine of taking rapid test regardless of your sex life. For people with only one sexual partner, taking the test at least yearly is advised while for people with multiple sexual partners the test should be taken after every 3 months and after STD testing.

For people taking these tests, they are assured of having their results almost immediately as the test results are out in less than 20 minutes.

HIV rapid test detects the virus slowly. Regularly checking your HIV status will ensure that you get a well-confirmed result.

Health professionals explain that it is very challenging to break the news, reactive results, to a patient. It is therefore important to ensure that a confirmatory test is done to confirm a positive result.

HIV disclosure law

It is disheartening to actually communicate with the patient and explain that further testing is required.

Irrespective of whether your HIV rapid test was confidential or anonymous, any reactive result must be reported to your local health department to the center of disease control and prevention. However, the names of the infected are kept confidential.

Pre-tests for HIV rapid test

Qualified professionals carry out counseling sessions with the infected. During the counseling session, you may be asked questions regarding how you are exposed and most importantly, about your sex life.

The counselor then explains in detail about the HIV/AIDs disease and advises you on how to live healthy yet infected.

HIV rapid test is the most convenient method to get tested for HIV, it is affordable and fast. Live healthy by knowing your HIV status today!