Rapid oral HIV tests detect antibodies against HIV in oral fluids. These rapid oral tests are fairly accurate in detecting antibodies against the virus, similar to blood tests used for HIV diagnosis.
Rapid oral HIV tests are up to 99% accurate in detecting antibodies if your infection has lasted a while. However, their accuracy drops significantly if your HIV exposure is recent. This inaccuracy occurs because the antibodies detected by this test take time to form inside the body. Moreover, blood tests for HIV can detect antibodies much earlier than rapid oral HIV tests.
Multiple types of HIV tests are helpful at different stages of the disease. Rapid oral HIV tests are useful because they can be carried out at home. However, a follow-up confirmatory blood test is recommended for accurate HIV diagnosis, regardless of the result.
WHAT IS RAPID TESTING?
Rapid point of care testing is when the client gets their test results on the same day. A rapid test can be done anywhere and does not require a laboratory to get the results. The antibodies developed by your body are detected instead of looking for the virus directly. Antibodies against HIV can take around three months to develop. This time is called the window period.
If someone has tested negative during this window period, another test after the window period has passed is essential to confirm the HIV status of the individual. Rapid testing appointments may last up to 60 minutes because pre-testing and post-testing counseling is normally done.
These tests are usually screening tests, which means that they are used to filter out possible positive cases from negative cases. It is important to remember that depending on the time that someone gets tested post-exposure, the test may not show a viral infection and could be negative. False-positive results and false-negative results can happen.
A false-positive result means that HIV infection isn't present, but the test is showing a positive result. A false-negative test indicates that the infection couldn't be detected by the test even though the virus is present.
To combat false-positive and false-negative results, an additional confirmatory blood test is done on positive rapid tests. The initial positive result is called the preliminary positive result. Confirmatory tests are done using fourth-generation antigen-antibody tests. These tests require more time to get the results.
RAPID TESTS AVAILABLE FOR HIV
Following are some of the readily available HIV home detection kits. The trade names used here are in concert with the ones easily available in most pharmacies in the United States.
Third-Generation HIV blood tests
- OraQuick Advance Rapid Antibody Test
- Reveal Rapid HIV Antibody Test
- Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV Test
- Multispot HIV-1/HIV-2 Rapid Test
- INSTI HIV-1 Antibody Test
Fourth-Generation blood tests
- Alere Determine Combo Test
- Clearview HIV Test
- Clearview Complete HIV Test
Home Tests for HIV diagnosis
- HomeAccess HIV-1 Test
- OraQuick Home HIV Testing Kit
A rapid test requires the tester to collect oral secretions or a drop of blood. A swab is passed once over the upper gum and then over the lower gum to collect oral secretions. In around 20 minutes, the device will show either one or two lines. One line represents negative results with 99.8% accuracy, whereas two lines represent positive results with 99.3% accuracy.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO GET TESTED?
Knowing your status is important, and if you have a positive status, testing is required for a prompt diagnosis so that your doctor can start appropriate treatment as early as possible.
Studies have shown that prompt diagnosis and early treatment for HIV significantly improve the outcome of the disease. 1 in 7 HIV-positive people in the United States is not aware of their HIV status. These people do not receive appropriate treatment on time and thus develop detrimental consequences in the later stages of the disease.
If your results come back positive, appropriate treatment can improve the outcome of your illness. It can also help you achieve an undetectable viral load early in the course of your disease. An undetectable viral load is essential since it improves your quality of life and is likely to prevent HIV transmission to other people.
If your test results indicate that you tested negative for HIV, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being HIV-free. You can also employ several protective measures to reduce your risk of HIV exposure in the future.
HIV testing is also important if you are planning to conceive a child or are pregnant. Studies have shown that women who are treated for HIV early in the course of their pregnancies have a reduced risk of transmitting the virus to their babies.
HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD YOU GET TESTED?
According to guidelines published by the Center for Disease Control, everyone between the age of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine healthcare. High-risk individuals should get tests done annually. Similarly, sexually active homosexual men should get tested every three to six months.
It's important to get tested because most people aren't aware that they are HIV-positive and may take fewer precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. Getting tested also allows HIV-positive individuals to start treatment early on. Early treatment of HIV can also reduce the risk of heart, liver, and kidney problems that have been documented in HIV patients.
Pregnant women can potentially transmit HIV to their babies during delivery and breastfeeding, and taking the right antivirals can minimize disease transmission to the baby. There is currently no cure for HIV, and the treatment aims at reducing the viral load in the body. One of the most important factors that help in keeping the viral load down to a minimum is getting tested frequently.
Fewer people are being diagnosed with HIV nowadays because of easy access to testing and preventative treatment regimens. Healthcare providers are available to resolve your queries and provide support.