Diagnosing HIV in the right stages is crucial to develop the right treatment plan to fight the disease. Early testing will help in avoiding spreading of this highly contagious disease and in preventing further complications. Health care providers offer free HIV testing at their clinics along with the necessary counseling.

The most common method to diagnose HIV is through a blood test. This test will check the presence of antibodies that are vital to deter any foreign bodies like virus, bacteria, etc. Those exposed to the virus should immediately undergo the required tests to determine the state of the disease. This is to find the appropriate follow up tests required after the exposure. Some of the primary tests for diagnosing HIV and AIDS are listed below.


This test is used to detect the presence of HIV infection in the body. ELISA stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. If the test were found positive, a Western blot test would be done to confirm the diagnosis. If the person has persistent doubts of HIV in spite of the negative results, ELISA tests can be done again in one to three months’ time.


For this test, a sample of saliva is collected from the inside of your cheek using a cotton pad. This sample is submitted to a thorough testing in the laboratory and the results are made available in 3 days. After diagnosing the positive results, a blood test is also conducted to confirm the infection.


Viral Load Test measures the amount of HIV present in your bloodstream. For measuring this, three techniques are used – Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), Branched DNA (bDNA), and Nucleic Acid Sequence-Based Amplification Assay (NASBA).

This test is specifically used to monitor the progress of the treatment and to detect early HIV infection in the body. The HIV infection is found out using DNA sequences that bound to those in the virus. However, the results may vary between each test.


Home Access Express Test sold in pharmacies can also be used to detect the presence of HIV virus in the body. In fact, Home Test is the only one that has earned the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration. It is the most easily accessible test, but might not be that accurate as other specialized tests done by clinicians.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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