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Diagnosis & Test

Traditional HIV testing
The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test looks for antibodies to the virus in a sample of your blood drawn from a vein. If this test is positive — meaning you have antibodies to HIV — the same test is repeated. If the repeat test is also positive for HIV antibodies, you need a confirming blood test called the Western blot test, which checks for the presence of HIV proteins.

Rapid HIV testing
Several rapid tests offer highly accurate information within as little as 20 minutes. These tests also look for antibodies to the virus using a sample of your blood, drawn from a vein or a finger prick, or fluids collected on a treated pad that's rubbed on your upper and lower gums. The oral test is almost as sensitive as the blood test and eliminates the need for drawing blood.

Home HIV testing
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one HIV test for home use. The Home Access HIV-1 Test System, marketed by Home Access Health, is as accurate as traditional HIV tests, and all positive results are automatically retested.