A non-reactive HIV test result is equivalent to a negative result. It indicates that neither HIV antibodies nor the virus has been detected in your blood.
Testing for HIV can expedite a person’s access to treatment. There are various tests, and specific individuals may have a “nonreactive response.”
The sooner people are aware of their HIV status, the better their health outcomes will be.
Early therapy with antiretroviral medicines can reduce the risk of significant AIDS-related complications by 72% and the risk of serious non-AIDS complications by 39%.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Reliable Source advises that all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 undergo at least one HIV test.
However, there are specific populations that should get HIV testing more frequently. They include individuals who have had several sexual partners or shared needles or syringes.
The focus of this article is HIV testing. It will define what a non-reactive or reactive result indicates and assess the accuracy of HIV testing.
Nonreactive versus reactive outcome
A non-reactive result indicates that the fluid sample did not contain HIV antigens or antibodies that the test was designed to detect. It may indicate that a person tested negative for HIV.
However, a negative HIV test result does not necessarily indicate that a person does not have HIV.
Instead, it could indicate that the individual took the test too soon to detect HIV antigens or antibodies.
A reactive or positive HIV test result indicates that the test indicated a reaction, indicating that the individual has HIV antigens or antibodies in their blood.
HIV test types explained
Antigen/antibody testing and antibody tests are the two primary tests for HIV screeningReliable Source.
Another sort of HIV test that detects the virus in the blood is a nucleic acid test. However, because these tests are costly, they are not commonly used for routine screening.
Tests for antigen/antibody
Medical practitioners utilize antigen/antibody assays to detect HIV antibodies and antigens. They obtain blood samples from a vein or a finger prick.
Antigens are substances from the outer world that activate the immune system. Such as HIV, are located on the surface of viruses. Antigens signal the immune system to make antibodies, specialized proteins that combat foreign invaders and prevent infections.
Levels of p24, an HIV antigen, increase in the blood after infection, but before the immune system can create antibodies. Therefore, these tests enable faster HIV infection detection.
- Antibody tests are somewhat less complicated, as they identify antibodies the body creates in response to HIV.
- Individuals can take these tests in a physician’s office or at home using a home HIV test.
- Antibody tests detect the immunological response to HIV infection by testing blood or saliva for antibodies.
- Blood drawn from a vein can reveal HIV infection earlier than blood drawn from a finger prick or saliva. This is related to how the virus spreads throughout the body.
A nonreactive test result may indicate that the individual took the test outside the allotted time range.
The findings of an HIV test administered quickly after contact with HIV-positive bodily fluids may be erroneous.
The window period is the interval between when a person catches a virus and when their antibody or antigen levels are high enough to be detected by a test. In other words, a test may not detect HIV antibodies or antigens within the window because there are too few.
“Seroconversion” refers to the point at which an individual has sufficient antibodies for a valid test result.
The window time can vary according to the sensitivity of a particular test, the antibodies or antigens it detects, and the individual’s biology.
Some people develop HIV infection symptoms swiftly, but the process may be gradual in others.
Rapid testing interval
According to CATIE, the Canadian government’s HIV and hepatitis C information resource, fast HIV antibody tests have a window of three to twelve weeks.
By day 22 after contact, rapid testing can detect HIV infection in almost half of those who have received the virus. By 12 weeks, they can detect infections in 99 percent of individuals.
Antigen/antibody testing time window
Antigen/antibody tests identify both the viral p24 antigen and the antibodies produced by the body. Because p24 can manifest faster than antibodies, this test has a narrower window of availability.
After 18 days of exposure, antigen/antibody testing can detect HIV antigens or antibodies in approximately half of those who have acquired HIV. After 44 days, they can detect infection in 99 percent of exposed individuals.
Suppose a person tests negative following a recent HIV you. They should obtain a second test at the end of the window period to confirm the initial result.
HIV can be transmitted by bodily fluids, including:
- vaginal fluid
- anal fluid
- breast milk
- The virus enters the bloodstream via these fluids through mucous membranes, open cuts or wounds, or direct injection.
The virus then infects white blood cells of the immune system to manufacture copies of itself and replicate.
HIV can be transmitted by air and water, mosquitoes, direct touch, drinking fountains, and shared dishes, contrary to popular belief.
The virus cannot penetrate healthy, intact skin or saliva. It requires direct access between two persons’ bloodstreams.