Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"How do blood tests detect HIV?"
Do they look for HIV when they're doing routing blood tests? I had a routine test a few weeks ago and they said that things like my red blood cell count and white blood cell count are normal - now I'm just trying to figure out if they would have told me if they had tested for HIV.
HIV can be tested by blood testing. If there is a concern of a recent transmission of HIV, then your physician may choose to order a test checking for the presence of the proteins that make up the virus itself. This test is a better choice in this setting, as it may take several weeks (generally 6 to 12) for an antibody test to return positive following transmission of the virus.
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Antibodies are formed by the body in response to an infection; tests that detect antibodies are the standard tests that are performed to check for HIV when there is no concern for a recent transmission. In some states, the patient must sign a consent form in order for a HIV test to be performed. If you are in such a state and did not sign a consent form, then this test should not have been ordered. If you are in a non-consent state, then your physician should tell you one way or another the result of your HIV test. If you have any questions at all about this, you should contact your physician's office directly and ask them about your test status.
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