NOVA Test Anti-HIV

What is this test?

This test looks for HIV infection in your blood or saliva. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. About 1 in 5 people infected with HIV do not know it because they may not have symptoms. HIV comes in 2 forms:

  • HIV-1. This type is found all over the world.
  • HIV-2. This type is mainly found in West Africa. But it has spread to the US.

This test is one of several tests that look for HIV infection. Some tests take a few days to receive results. Rapid HIV tests can give results in about 20 minutes. Getting an early diagnosis of HIV is important because you can start treatment early and also take steps to avoid passing the virus to others.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test if your healthcare provider thinks you have an HIV infection. These are the signs and symptoms of HIV infection:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Night sweats or fever
  • Exhausted
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • White patches in your mouth or throat.
  • Continuous (chronic) diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Reddish spots on the skin or in the mouth.
  • I forget
  • Depression

You may also have this test if you are at risk for HIV. The CDC recommends HIV testing for these groups:

  • People who have had unprotected sex with multiple partners and have had unprotected sex with any partner, with men who have sex with men, or with strangers.
  • People who have had sex for money or drugs.
  • People who inject drugs or steroids, or who share their injection equipment with other people.
  • People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • People who had unprotected sex with anyone might have the risk factors listed above.
  • You can also have this test if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Some people who are not in a high-risk group choose to get tested just to make sure they don’t have HIV.

What other tests could I have in conjunction with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order tests for other STIs. If the rapid HIV test results are positive, your provider will order another test to confirm the findings.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary based on your age, gender, medical history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean to you.

Normal results are negative. This means that no antibodies were found and that you may not be infected with HIV. Most people who become infected with HIV will develop antibodies to the virus within 2 months. During this time, you may have HIV, but this test cannot find it. You may need to repeat the test more than 3 months after your possible exposure if your results are negative.

A positive result means that HIV antibodies were found and you may have HIV.

How is this test done?

The rapid HIV test is done on a sample of blood or saliva. To obtain a blood sample, a needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. To obtain a saliva sample, your doctor will rub your gums with a special swab.

Does this test present any risks?

Getting a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling dizzy. When the needle sticks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterwards, the site may be sore.

What could affect my test results?

Getting tested too soon after being infected with HIV can give a false-negative result.

How do I prepare for this test?

You do not need to prepare for this test. Make sure your healthcare provider knows all the medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medications that do not need a prescription and any illegal drugs that you may use.

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