The Results

My HIV Screening was NON-REACTIVE – What Does that Mean?

If your screening result is non-reactive, this means that HIV antibodies have not been detected in your body. Screening non-reactive can mean one of two things:

1. You are not HIV positive.


2. You are HIV positive, but your immune system has not yet developed HIV antibodies. Remember, this screen is designed to identify HIV antibodies, not the HIV virus. If infected, it can take up to three months for your body to develop the antibodies necessary to produce a reactive result using a rapid screening test. If your last exposure (risk behavior) occurred within the last three months, you should consider getting another HIV test three months after the date of that exposure to ensure that you are not infected with HIV. It is important you do not participate in other risk behaviors during the time that you are waiting to be re-tested.

My HIV Screening was REACTIVE — What’s Next?

A reactive result with a rapid test means that the body’s immune system may have developed the antibodies after being infected with HIV. Even though the rapid test has a specificity of 99 percent, everyone who has a reactive screen must complete a confirmatory HIV test. Drawing a sample of your blood to detect the presence of HIV antibodies completes this test. The results for this confirmatory HIV test can take up to a week to become available. In order to receive the results for this second test, you will need to return to the hospital to meet with an HIV counselor. Based upon the results of your test, your HIV counselor will help you take the next step in your health care. While waiting for your results, it is not uncommon to feel anxious. Trained counselors are available for you to talk with and to answer any questions you may have.

If you need to talk with someone any time of day or night, you can call the Crisis and Suicide Intervention Hotline (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at 317.251.7575.

Remember, with proper care, a person can live with HIV for years without becoming sick. Your doctor will design a treatment plan that is right for you, and it is important that you follow his or her instructions.