HIV Testing And Counseling

HIV Testing: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to HIV testing and counseling:

  • When a person is infected with HIV, it may be several weeks before the person tests positive for HIV. That’s because it takes time to develop antibodies to HIV, which is what the tests check for.
  • The most commonly used tests for HIV are the EIA and ELISA blood tests. While these tests take several days, a rapid test is now more commonly used.
  • Any positive EIA or ELISA test result will be repeated and then confirmed with the Western blot test before a person is told he or she is HIV positive.
  • The number of women infected with HIV is growing both in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • HIV is spread through blood, blood products, semen, and vaginal fluids. It is NOT spread through casual contact, such as holding hands, hugging, coughing or sharing towels or bedding.
  • Nearly one million people in the U.S. have HIV or AIDS. Ninety five percent of new cases are in developing countries that are ill equipped to care for AIDS patients.
  • There is no cure for AIDS but several new medications can help delay the onset of AIDS and prevent infections. It may take several years for someone with HIV to develop AIDS.
  • Anyone considering HIV testing should assess their lifestyle and risk factors that put them at increased risk for HIV.
  • Testing for HIV should include counseling before and after the test.

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