HIV Antibody Test

Overview of HIV Antibody Test

The HIV antibody test detects antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). For more information go the SHS health topic about HIV Infection & AIDS.

A person can be infected with HIV and have no signs or symptoms of the infection. The only way to know if a person has the virus would be for that person to seek out an HIV antibody test and test positive on the test. It is possible for a person to test negative on an HIV antibody test but still have the virus in their body because they have not yet developed enough detectable antibody. Early identification, monitoring and treatment can greatly improve long-term health.

Window Period

After exposure and infection with HIV, most people will develop detectable antibodies to the virus within 3 months. However, it can take as long as 6 months for this process (called seroconversion) to occur in a small percentage of people. It is very rare for this process to take longer than six months.

Confidential Testing vs. Anonymous Testing

Confidential Testing

Confidential testing involves documenting identifying information about the client. When a confidential test is performed, a notation is made in the client's medical record and the result of the test is placed in the record. Results of the test cannot be released without the client's permission, except as required by state or federal law.

Confidential testing is recommended for individuals needing documentation of their HIV status for a specific purpose such as a travel visa, Peace Corps application, etc. Students may also decide to get a confidential test for personal reasons.

Anonymous Testing

Anonymous testing means that no identifying information is asked of the individual seeking testing. 

Anonymous testing is recommended for individuals who wish to know their HIV antibody status for personal reasons. There is also no documentation of the request for the test or the result kept in the client’s medical record. A copy of the result is not available to give to the client. Anonymous testing may also include a risk reduction counseling session with a trained and certified HIV test counselor.

Relationship Between HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

The sexual behaviors that put one at risk for HIV also put one at risk for many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Also, STIs can increase the chance for transmission of and infection by HIV (e.g. herpes sores provide easy entry of HIV into the body). Certain STIs may accelerate the progression of HIV disease; similarly, underlying HIV infection may alter the symptoms, complication and disease progression of STIs.

How We Can Help

  • Anonymous and Confidential HIV testing are both available on campus.
  • Testing for other STIs is available at SHCS Medical Services. Please speak with your medical provider if you would like to get tested or wish to receive additional information.
  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.

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