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HIV Antibody Blood Test

Last updated May 4, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

BruceBlaus

The HIV Antibody Blood Test is a test to detect antibodies specific to the human immunodeficiency virus. It is helpful in the diagnosis of HIV infection. The test is routinely performed on high-risk individuals and on blood, prior to it being transfused.


What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Blood Test
  • AIDS Blood Test
  • HIV Serology Blood Test

What is HIV Antibody Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus responsible for causing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids, especially blood and sexual secretions. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to the fetus in the womb.
  • HIV infects a specific type of white blood cell, called CD4 T lymphocyte or helper T cell. The virus resides in these cells and with time, can drastically lower their numbers.
  • Upon exposure to HIV, the immune system creates a large amount of defense proteins, called antibodies. These antibodies are specific to HIV; their presence implies that an HIV infection has occurred.
  • The HIV Antibody Blood Test is a test to detect antibodies specific to the human immunodeficiency virus. It is helpful in the diagnosis of HIV infection. The test is routinely performed on high-risk individuals and on blood, prior to it being transfused.

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the HIV Antibody Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the HIV Antibody Blood Test:

  • Routine screening of infants born to high-risk mothers
  • Routine screening of individuals in high-risk areas
  • Routine screening of donated blood, prior to it being transfused
  • Individuals with the following set of non-specific signs and symptoms may also be tested:
    • Rapid weight-loss
    • Night sweats
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Prolonged swelling of lymph nodes
    • Prone to frequent and persistent infections, especially by pathogens that are normally harmless to healthy individuals, like yeasts, such as Candida albicans (oral/genital candidiasis, thrush). These are called opportunistic infections

How is the Specimen Collected for HIV Antibody Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for HIV Antibody Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the HIV Antibody Blood Test Result?

  • A positive HIV Antibody Blood Test may indicate an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. 

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 is more prevalent in the world, whereas HIV-2 is more prevalent in Africa, especially West Africa. Generally, when an HIV infection is mentioned, it means HIV type-1 infection since HIV type-2 is much rarer
  • Various additional tests are combined to establish a diagnosis of HIV, such as a p24 antigen blood test
  • A CD4 and CD8 test are done to help in the diagnosis of AIDS

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 8, 2014
Last updated: May 4, 2018