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Figure 11 lists commonly used HIV tests and shows what type of test they are.Your testing centre should tell you this information for the test that they use.
In adults, viral load tests are only usually offered when there is both: PCR testing for HIV DNA is mainly used for babies born to HIV positive mothers.
As a baby has the mother’s antibodies for the first 18 months, antibody testing is not used until a child is two years old.
These are called 4th generation tests or combined antibody/antigen (Ag/Ab) tests.
In these tests the antigen being tested is a major HIV protein called p24.
Viral load can sometimes be detected within a week, p24 on average by day 16 and antibodies by day 25.
However, these are average results a lot of people take longer.These are usually people who regularly donate blood (usually twice a week). When this picked up in blood screening, these samples are used for testing new HIV tests.This is why it is impossible to give the percentage chance that a test will be accurate for each day.If the result is positive this does not mean that you definitely have HIV, although it is likely.A small percentage of people can have a ‘false-positive’ result.A test that misses half of infections is not very useful.