What is ELISA Test for HIV Detection?
What is the Elisa test for HIV?
The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or Elisa test for HIV, is a blood test that helps detect HIV antibodies. The HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) spreads through sexual contact, contact with HIV-infected blood, from mother to child during pregnancy or through breast milk, and sharing injection equipment such as needles and syringes.
HIV attacks the immune system and affects your body's ability to fight infection and disease. Doctors recommend a series of blood tests to detect the virus. The Elisa test for HIV is one of the tests that help diagnose HIV antibodies. It checks for proteins that your body produces in reaction to the virus.
Let us learn more about the Elisa test for HIV procedure and how to interpret the Elisa test for HIV results.
When do doctors recommend the Elisa test?
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. If unchecked, it can lead to AIDS. Your doctor will recommend the Elisa test for HIV if you have been exposed to HIV or are at risk of acquiring the virus.
The risk of contracting HIV increases in people who
- indulge in sexual intercourse without using protection, especially with someone who may have HIV
- have had sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
- use intravenous (IV) drugs through shared needles, or
- have undergone blood transfusions.
Getting the Elisa test for HIV regularly is advisable if you have a new sexual partner or work in healthcare.
What is the procedure for the Elisa test for HIV?
The Elisa test for HIV is a simple blood test that requires no preparation. You may have to wait for some days before you get the results.
This test involves very few risks. Understanding the window of exposure for this test is critical. This is because if the test is done soon after exposure, your body will not have produced enough antibodies. This may not give a positive result even if the virus is present in the body.
Elisa test procedure
Before the test
- The laboratory technician will explain the procedure and take precautions to ensure your comfort before conducting the test.
- Please inform the technician if you have trouble giving blood or have a blood disorder, such as haemophilia, or if you take blood thinners.
During the test
- The lab technician will clean the area on your arm from where the blood sample will be taken.
- Then they will tie a band around the arm to make the veins fill with blood
- They will then insert a needle into the vein to draw blood and remove the band
- Finally, they will remove the needle and apply a bandaid to the site.
What do the test results mean?
If you test positive, your doctor will advise you to repeat the test to confirm the results. As the Elisa test for HIV is very sensitive, you may test falsely positive. Furthermore, other infections, such as lupus or Lyme disease, or a sexually transmitted disease may also cause a false positive. If you test positive in the second test, too, it will confirm the presence of HIV.
Here's what happens if the result of your Elisa test for HIV is positive or negative.
If both tests give a positive result, please consult your doctor immediately. They will direct you to a specialist who may advise further tests. Based on their results, they will determine the best therapy for you.
Your specialist may order tests to check for infections and complications. These include the following:
- Hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Urinary tract infections
- Cervical or anal cancer
- Sexually transmitted diseases
While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, medications can help control HIV and prevent complications. An HIV treatment plan typically consists of
- Antiretroviral medication (ART) therapy,
- Advice about counselling or support groups, and
- Advice for preventing transmissions.
As part of the treatment, your doctor may advise you the following tests at regular intervals:
- CD4 count: This test helps observe how well your immune system is working. It also helps detect the possibility of contracting an infection or disease in the future.
- Viral load test: This test shows how much virus is in the blood. If the virus is below a certain level, it is not detected. If the virus is undetectable, then you are safe and will not pass on the virus to another person.
If you have been exposed to HIV in the last three months, the virus might be present but may not get detected. Therefore, if you get negative test results, your doctor may advise you to repeat the test in three months. In such a case, taking precautions to prevent transmission is crucial.
If you receive negative test results and have not been exposed to HIV, you will not require further testing.
While the Elisa test for HIV is the most commonly recommended, several other tests are also available to determine the presence of HIV.
- Antibody tests help to check for the antibody in saliva, blood and urine.
- Antigen or HIV antibody test helps to check the presence of the virus and its antibodies. These are blood tests that give highly accurate results.
- NAT (Nucleic Acid Test) helps to detect HIV within 7 to 28 days after exposure. This test gives accurate results for recent exposure.
To sum up
Please consult your doctor at the earliest if you experience symptoms such as fever, nausea, rashes, painful mouth sores, weight loss, and swollen lymph glands on the neck. These are mild symptoms of HIV and may go unnoticed. However, due to the high amount of virus in your blood at this time, the infection may spread quickly and easily.
The Elisa test for HIV will help determine the presence of HIV and help you begin treatment to prevent complications.
Always trust a certified pathology like Metropolis Labs for all your blood tests. The qualified technicians at Metropolis use advanced diagnostic methods to deliver timely and accurate results. For your convenience, they provide at-home visits to collect your blood samples.