HIV Antibody Common Questions
- What are the symptoms of HIV infection?
- When does AIDS develop?
- What are the treatments for HIV/AIDS?
- Should I tell anyone else of my test results?
- How confidential are HIV test results?
- Can you use the HIV antibody test to detect HIV in newborns?
- Are there HIV testing methods other than a blood test?
The only reliable way to tell if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. This is because many people with HIV do not experience symptoms for years after the initial infection or have symptoms that are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses. Click here for information from the CDC on symptoms of HIV infection.
Symptoms of the initial HIV infection can mimic those of influenza and other viral infections. The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. According to the CDC, AIDS is diagnosed when your CD4 T-cell count drops below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood or when you have HIV and an AIDS-related illness such as tuberculosis. Click here for more information from the CDC.
Currently, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, there are therapies that can help. The CDC’s booklet, Living with HIV/AIDS, is available online. The FDA also offers an online list of FDA-approved therapies. Early treatment is recommended.
Yes. If you test positive for HIV, it is important that you tell your health care providers as well as all current and future sex partners and/or anyone with whom you share needles. Counseling services are often available from the clinic that performed the test or from your health care provider that will help you to inform the people who need to know.
Your HIV status, like other medical conditions and test results, is protected by the HIPAA Privacy Rule and cannot be shared with friends, family, or employers without your written permission. Your HIV status may be shared with your health care providers who have a “need to know” in order to treat you. Also, in order to determine the incidence of HIV and to provide appropriate prevention and care services, all new cases of HIV are reported to state and local health departments.
Certain testing centers provide either anonymous (your name is never given) or confidential (your name is given but kept private) HIV testing and counseling. The FDA has approved one home testing device that allows you to remain anonymous and to get confidential results. You can also contact your state, county, or city health department to find out where testing may be available.
No. Because maternal antibodies are transferred from mother to baby and stay in the newborn’s system for 6–12 months, a different test must be used. This test is called the HIV DNA test
Yes. Methods that test either oral fluid or urine are available in some locations. The CDC has more information on the different types of HIV screening tests available in the U.S. (click here).