HIV is a virus that attacks and weakens your body’s immune system. It’s usually spread through sexual contact, but can also be transferred through blood, from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, through breast-feeding or from sharing contaminated needles.
HIV is a manageable condition, but If it’s left undiagnosed and untreated it can severely damage your immune system, progressing into stage 3 HIV (commonly known as AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
People with AIDS have very badly damaged immune systems, making them susceptible to a number of severe illnesses which wouldn’t normally harm someone with a healthy immune system.
This test is accurate and reliable if taken from 28 days after exposure as this is when both your antibody and P24 antigen levels become high enough to measure. Around 95% of people with HIV will have produced either antibodies or the P24 antigen by the 28th day after exposure.
Doctor Cullimore says “Although the P24 antigens can usually be detected around two weeks after infection, testing for these antigens alone will not give an accurate test result. The corresponding antibodies will be produced within about 3-4 weeks after infection, depending on the strength and speed of your immune system. So taking this test from 28 days after initial exposure will give an accurate measure of both the P24 antigens and the antibodies your body produces in response to the HIV infection. UK guidelines (BASHH 2014) state that a negative result at 28 days is conclusive enough for most individuals, but if the circumstances surrounding your exposure was high-risk, repeating the test 8 weeks later is recommended to confirm the negative result. Some people won’t experience any symptoms in the early stages of HIV, and in fact it is possible to live with HIV for many years before symptoms appear. Others may experience flu-like symptoms, including a fever, headache, tiredness and a sore throat. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin and the better your chances of avoiding serious illness.”
All our tests have been specially designed to be convenient and non-invasive. Once you’ve booked your appointment, full preparation instructions will be provided in your confirmation email or letter. You can continue to eat and drink normally before your appointment, and you’ll also remain fully clothed throughout.