Three types of HIV tests are available. If you are unsure what test to undergo, you can walk in an urgent care clinic and consult a doctor. The good thing about these clinics is that they keep your identity confidential. So, the awkwardness that comes with STD testing is no more in a walk-in clinic.
The three tests are usually done on urine, blood, or oral samples.
HIV testing in Washington DC is affordable and anonymous. You need no prior appointment to see a doctor or undergo a test. Just enter the clinic and ask for a test.
1. Nucleic Acid Tests (NAT):
NAT test involves taking blood sample from your vein. The test detects the presence of virus in the blood. It will tell you the load of virus. NAT is able to catch HIV faster than other tests. However, the test is expensive. Doctors use it only for patients who had a high-risk exposure or those showing early signs of infection.
2. Antibody Test:
Antibody test detects antibodies in the blood or fluid sample. When a virus invades the body, the immune system starts producing antibodies. This indicates the presence of an infection. According to doctors, blood taken from veins is better than that taken from finger, as it is possible to detect HIV in the former sample. The self-test HIV kits are actually antibody tests.
3. Antigen Test:
Antigen test detects HIV antibodies and HIV antigens. As mentioned earlier, antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system during a virus attack. On the other hand, antigens are foreign particles that trigger your immune system to produce antibodies. People with HIV infection show the presence of antigen p24. This happens even before your immune system starts producing antibodies.
You can avail yourselves free HIV testing in DC. Antigen/antibody tests are common in labs across the US. Rapid antigen/antibody tests are also available.
When to get tested?
You had unprotected sex yesterday. You walk in a clinic for HIV testing today. Doctors advise against this step.
“Till now, no HIV test has the ability to catch HIV immediately after exposure,” says a doctor at the DC clinic. “In the future, we might have tests like that, but till then, you must wait several days before undergoing a test,” the doctor adds.
Window period is the time between exposure to HIV and the detection of virus through a test. This period differs in people. You can discuss this with the doctor before you undergo a test. You must ensure you are taking a HIV test at the right time to avoid false negative. HIV testing in Washington DC is available during holidays too. If you or somebody you know has been exposed to HIV, walk in the clinic and talk to the doctor about it. Depending on the degree of risk and the number of days passed after exposure, they would recommend you the right test. Don’t let HIV dampen your Christmas spirit.