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HIV Testing: Care Instructions


You can get tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This test checks for HIV antibodies and antigens in your blood. If they are found, the test is positive.

If HIV antibodies or antigens are not found, you may need a repeat test to be sure the results are correct. Or your doctor may want to do a different test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What do the results mean?

Normal result

  • A normal result means that no HIV antibodies or antigens were found in your blood. And if you had a test that checked for HIV RNA or DNA, none was found. Normal results are called negative.
  • You may need more testing to be sure the test results are correct.

Uncertain result

  • Test results don't clearly show whether you have an HIV infection. This is usually called an indeterminate result. This may happen before HIV antibodies or antigens develop. Or it may happen when some other type of antibody or antigen interferes with the results. If this occurs, you will probably have another test right away.

Abnormal result

  • An abnormal result means that you have HIV antibodies or antigens in your blood. These results are called positive.
  • A positive test will be confirmed by another type of test. This is because some tests can cause false-positive results. No one is considered HIV-positive until the result is confirmed by a test that shows HIV RNA or DNA in the person's blood.
  • If your test result is positive, your doctor will talk to you about starting treatment.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.