With a normal HIV test, blood is drawn and sent to a laboratory. A few days later, you are informed of the results one-on-one, in person.
The test does not detect the HIV virus itself but rather the antibodies that the body’s own defense system generates in reaction to the HIV infection.
If the test detects antibodies in the blood, then an HIV infection is present. Medically-speaking the test is then “positive.”
If the test does not detect any antibodies, then it is said to be “negative.” Either there is no infection present or the infection is too recent and the body has not yet been able to generate antibodies.
A positive test result usually raises questions and wakes fear in most people. Speaking with an experienced doctor and a counseling session at an AIDS service organization can be a great help. We have provided a summary of the most important information for people who have tested positive for HIV in the section “Positive – what now?”