What Does a Non-Reactive HIV Test Mean?

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A non-reactive HIV test means that HIV was not found in that testing sample. This test result is commonly referred to as "negative," although a person who tests negative for HIV may nevertheless actually be HIV positive.

Identification

  • HIV tests are used to find antibodies to the virus. Developing a detectable level of antibodies (enough antibodies to be found by a test) is a process called seroconversion.

Time Frame

  • HIVTest.org reports that seroconversion takes an average of 25 days after infection, but may take as long as three to six months.

Features

  • An HIV test will only yield a true positive if the tested individual has already seroconverted. A test taken before seroconversion occurs will be inaccurate.

Significance

  • A person who has not contracted HIV will also have a non-reactive test. However, there are a very small number of people who test false positive; this error can be discovered with another HIV test.

Considerations

  • People seeking HIV testing should speak with a health-care professional to determine if a test at that time will yield an accurate result, based on the date of the last possible exposure to the virus.

References

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