Skip to content
Go back

What Are the Different Types of HIV Tests?

Some of the different kinds of HIV tests available include:

  • Nucleic acid tests.
  • Antigen/antibody combination tests.
  • Antibody tests.

Tests You Can Get at the Doctor’s Office

You can have all three of the above tests done at your doctor’s office. All of them involve taking a sample of your blood, saliva, or urine to see if it contains traces of HIV. In particular:

  • Nucleic acid tests are expensive and rarely used anymore, as the other methods are just as accurate and faster. Nucleic acid tests work by counting the viral load in your blood.
  • Combination tests are usually done in a lab, though rapid, on-the-spot combination tests are becoming more popular. They can sometimes give you an earlier diagnosis than an antibody test and cost far less than a nucleic acid test.
  • Antibody tests are the most popular because they are fast and easy. Two forms of this test are the ELISA and Western Blot; both offer results in two to 14 days. A special rapid form of the ELISA can give you results in about 20 minutes.

Tests You Can Do at Home

The main test that you can do at home is the antibody test. This uses the same technology as the tests done at your doctor’s office but provides you with the comfort and confidentiality of a familiar environment. The main home antibody test in use today is OraQuick, which just requires an oral fluid sample to give you results in 20 minutes.

The OraQuick works a lot like a pregnancy test, in that two lines will appear on the indicator if HIV antibodies are detected. To use the test, you just need to swab your upper and lower gums and wait for the lines to appear.

You are also able to be tested for HIV through Nurx’s at home testing kits, which only require a few spots of blood. Your sample will be processed at our partner lab and results shared with you by one of our medical providers.

Back to top