Protect yourself and protect others by getting an HIV test today
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease, which is transmitted by contact or transfer of blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, and vaginal fluids. HIV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy, childbirth, or through breastmilk.
HIV infects immune system cells, and in the absence of effective treatment, eventually leads to a loss of cell-mediated immunity, and the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Although HIV is not curable, antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a very effective treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV and the progression to AIDS. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is also available as an emergency medication to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Why consider this test?
- The CDC recommends that everyone between 13 and 64 years of age should get tested at least once for HIV as part of routine health care.
- Individuals in higher risk populations (e.g. men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, sex workers) should be tested at least annually for HIV.
- HIV screening is recommended in the routine panel of prenatal screening tests for all pregnant women
- This 4th generation HIV test is a laboratory test that can detect HIV with more accuracy and at an earlier stage than older rapid HIV tests.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to HIV, be aware that there is a “window period” of 18-45 days when HIV antigens and antibodies are not detectable. Individuals who have been potentially exposed to HIV should be tested immediately (although likely negative within the first two weeks), and then tested again at six weeks, three months, and six months.
Stages & Symptoms of HIV
Many individuals are unaware that they have HIV in the first few months, as they do not display any symptoms, or only experience mild symptoms (e.g. headache, sore throat, fatigue). As the viral load increases, other symptoms usually appear. Individuals in the acute stage are highly contagious.
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Weight loss
• High fever
• Muscle aches
Clinical Latency Stage
The second stage of HIV infection is known as clinical latency (or chronic HIV infection). The virus is still multiplying during this stage, but only at very low levels, and many individuals do not show any symptoms. However, without HIV treatment, individuals in this stage can still transmit HIV.
HIV targets cells of the immune system reducing the ability to fight other infections and eventually progressing to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in untreated individuals.
• Extreme fatigue
• Memory loss
• Skin discoloration
• Rapid weight loss
• Increased susceptibility to other infections
What’s included in the HIV Test?
• HIV p24 antigen
Antigens are foreign molecules that initiate an immune response. The HIV p24 antigen is a viral core protein from HIV. It is usually detected in the blood of infected individuals within 2-3 weeks of exposure, providing a useful assay for diagnosing HIV within a short time frame after exposure. As the body mounts an immune response against HIV, antibodies to the p24 antigen are produced, which means the p24 antigen becomes undetectable 40-45 days after exposure. This means that the detection of HIV p24 antigen alone is not reliable after the very early stages of infection. However, the 4th generation HIV test offered here detects both the p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2.
• HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies
When an individual is infected with HIV, their immune system produces antibodies that are specific to HIV. These antibodies are generally not detected in the blood until 23-90 days after exposure, but then remain detectable for life (for IgG antibodies). HIV tests that only detect antibodies (e.g. rapid HIV tests) have a long “window period” post-exposure (as long as three months) when an individual can be infected and able to transmit HIV, yet still tests negative for HIV. This 4th generation HIV test detects both HIV antibodies as well as the earlier detectable HIV p24 antigen to reduce this “window period” to just 18-45 days post-exposure.
How It Works
Order your test
Choose the test that matches your need from our large array of tests. The kit will be delivered to your doorstep. There is no need to leave the comfort of your home.
Collect your sample
Register and activate your test. Collect your sample. Return your sample to our lab as soon as possible, using the prepaid envelope included in the kit.
Your sample will be tested as soon as it arrives in our lab. Your results will be available through our secure online platform.
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about this test. Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.
Our lab uses a fully automated antigen/antibody combination test to detect the presence of the HIV p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 in the finger prick blood sample. The p24 antigen is usually detected within 2-3 weeks post-exposure, while HIV antibodies are generally detected 4-6 weeks post-exposure.
Contact a health professional for follow-up testing for confirmation of a positive result from this HIV Test.
There is no cure for HIV. However, antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a very effective treatment to minimize viral load preventing the progression of HIV disease and preventing the transmission of HIV to sexual partners and newborn infants. ART is a life-long daily treatment that must be strictly followed to ensure the viral load remains below detectable levels. If the treatment is discontinued, HIV will continue to replicate increasing the risk of HIV transmission and the disease can progress to AIDS.
Methods are also available to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medication that individuals at high risk of HIV (e.g. partner of an HIV-positive person) can take to minimize their risk of HIV infection. There are currently two FDA approved PrEP medications that reduce the risk of contracting HIV via sex by up to 90%.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medication that must be started within 72 hours of exposure. PEP is a short course of medication that reduces the risk of infection but should not be used to replace other HIV and STD prevention methods.
- Avoiding vaginal, rectal or oral sex is the only sure-fire way to prevent STDs
- Proper use of male condoms reduces the risk of HIV transmission
- Long-term monogamous relationships with a tested partner reduce the risk
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medication that individuals at high risk of HIV (e.g. partner of an HIV-positive person) can take to minimize their risk of HIV infection
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medication that must be started within 72 hours of exposure, which reduces the risk of infection but should not be used to replace other HIV and STD prevention methods
HIV infections are usually diagnosed by the detection of HIV antigens and antibodies in a blood sample. The HIV p24 antigen is a structural component of the viral particle and can usually be detected around 2-3 weeks after infection before declining to undetectable levels. HIV antibodies are produced by an infected individual in response to the viral infection. They are usually not detectable until 4-6 weeks after exposure, but then generally remain detectable.
HIV is a major global public health issue. There are an estimated 1.2 million individuals living with HIV in the United States, and an estimated 38 million individuals worldwide. Specific populations who are at increased risk of HIV are men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, individuals in correctional facilities, sex workers (and their clients), and transgender individuals.