What Does a Non-Reactive HIV Test Mean?

By Erik Steel

A non-reactive HIV test means that HIV was not found in that testing sample. This test result is commonly referred to as "negative," although a person who tests negative for HIV may nevertheless actually be HIV positive.

A non-reactive HIV test means that HIV was not found in that testing sample. This test result is commonly referred to as "negative," although a person who tests negative for HIV may nevertheless actually be HIV positive.

Identification

HIV tests are used to find antibodies to the virus. Developing a detectable level of antibodies (enough antibodies to be found by a test) is a process called seroconversion.

Time Frame

HIVTest.org reports that seroconversion takes an average of 25 days after infection, but may take as long as three to six months.

Features

An HIV test will only yield a true positive if the tested individual has already seroconverted. A test taken before seroconversion occurs will be inaccurate.

Significance

A person who has not contracted HIV will also have a non-reactive test. However, there are a very small number of people who test false positive; this error can be discovered with another HIV test.

Considerations

People seeking HIV testing should speak with a health-care professional to determine if a test at that time will yield an accurate result, based on the date of the last possible exposure to the virus.

References

About the Author

Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."

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