Beyond Diagnosis: The Role of HIV Testing in Public Health

Globally, around 39 million people are facing HIV. Besides, there are about 24 lakhs of people living with HIV. With this number, it can be seen that many people lack knowledge about the importance of HIV testing in public health. It is important to keep in mind that having a proper diagnosis of HIV at an advanced level is vital at all levels. The testing counselor at the public health would discuss the next steps with you and explain the meaning of your HIV test results if you are tested in a community setting, clinic, or doctor’s office.

It’s not always the case that an HIV test that comes back negative indicates you are HIV-negative. This is due to the window period, which is the interval between HIV infection and the moment at which a test is truly able to identify the virus. The window of opportunity differs for each individual and is contingent upon the kind of HIV test you use.

What to Do After a Negative HIV Test Result?

There is a high chance that your HIV test will be harmful if you are following all the protection during the intimacy period and other health essentials. If your HIV test results are negative, you need to consider HIV preventive strategies that may be effective for you, such as using condoms correctly each time you have sex or taking the HIV prevention medication known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. To reduce your risk of contracting HIV if you inject drugs, always use new injection supplies and avoid sharing needles.

What if the HIV Test is Positive?

Antibody testing accounts for most HIV tests. A follow-up blood test is required to validate the results of any antibody test that you utilize and yield a positive result.

  • To confirm that the results of your original fast screening test were accurate, the testing site will schedule a follow-up test if you take it at a community program or another location.
  • You should get a follow-up test in public health if you utilize an HIV self-test at home. Any positive results from an HIV test must always be verified by additional testing conducted in a medical facility.
  • Your doctor’s office or clinic will assist you in understanding what to do next after receiving an HIV diagnosis, emphasizing starting the treatment as quickly as possible.

Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, is a type of HIV treatment that involves taking medications to manage the virus. Regardless of how long they have had the virus or how healthy they are, all HIV-positive individuals should consider starting ART.

HIV medication can lower your blood HIV level to almost undetectable levels if taken as directed. Individuals living with HIV who take their medication as directed, achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, and avoid sharing HIV with their partners who do not have the virus can lead long, healthy lives.

Undergoing HIV Testing in a Community-Based Setting

You’ll probably obtain a speedy HIV test if you get tested outside a medical facility or lab, like at a mobile testing van, community organization, or public health location.

You can be sure you don’t have HIV if your test is negative and you haven’t had any potential exposure in the preceding three months.

You should visit a doctor or clinic for additional testing if your test results are positive. The counselors who administer the initial exam must be ready to respond to your inquiries and suggest people for further assessment.

Two Best HIV Self-Testing if Not Going for Public Health Options

If you are not keen to undergo HIV testing in public health, then consider the self-testing option. Two of the major options are-

  • Rapid Self-Test

Results from a Rapid Self-Test can be accessed in as little as 20 minutes and completed fully at home or in a private setting. A fast self-test kit is available online or at pharmacies. Alternatively, if they are available, you can request a free HIV self-test at your nearest lab. However, you must have all the information and prescriptions from the doctor.

  • Mail-in Self-Test

This test includes everything needed to collect dried blood from a fingerstick at home, including a specimen collection kit. A medical professional receives the test results from the lab after the sample is analyzed. Online orders for mail-in self-tests are accepted. Additionally, certain medical professionals can request that you mail in a self-test.

If you want to visit the lab, search for the HIV test near me, and you will find the best labs to check out.

Types of HIV Tests in Public Health India

There are three different types of HIV tests conducted-

Standard HIV Blood Test

The purpose of the HIV blood test is also to check for antibodies against the host’s virus. The results are more accurate when testing happens between 23 and 90 days after the original infection.

Test for antigens and antibodies

To determine the level of infection, an HIV test looks at both antigens and antibodies. Substances that are unfamiliar to the host body and function to stimulate the immune system are known as antigens.

Nucleic Acid Tests (NAT)

The HIV RNA or viral load test is another name for this HIV blood test. The test looks for the virus in a person’s blood.


Finding the right diagnosis for HIV is vital to avoid any life-threatening moment. Getting the testing done at the public health is important.

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