In the last decade the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued revised guidelines to encourage health care providers to routinely offer HIV testing. The government has been trying to increase the number of people who undergo HIV tests and find out their status. Although HIV antibody testing has been done since 1985, technology has evolved over the years and has brought in a number of new and improved procedures. Most of the early procedures involved blood tests.
It is only recently that clinics look for antibodies in oral fluid or urine. The EIA (enzyme immunoassay), which is used on blood drawn from a vein is the most common screening procedure. It has been used to look for antibodies to HIV and a positive reactive EIA requires a follow-up test such as the Western blot.
Oral HIV: It follows the same screening and confirmation technique as blood tests but draws fluid from within the gums for testing. This is a non invasive procedure which can be used when blood draws are considered unsafe.
Rapid HIV: This test was first approved in the U.S. in 1996. It produces quick results, usually in 10 minutes and is popular for fast turnaround time when compared to the standard HIV tests (EIA and ELISA) which take one to two weeks.
Urine-based: These tests need to be ordered by a physician but they are believed to be less accurate when compared to other tests. Results are confirmed with an additional Western blot test.
The process of HIV testing can be overwhelming because there is a lot you need to know about the different tests. However everyone is at risk of acquiring HIV and it is extremely important to get tested as a part of routine health care.