The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask about certain risks that make the chance infection higher. If the doctor suspects HIV, tests will be done. Testing is important because someone can have the virus without symptoms.
Tests may include:
Rapid testing with a saliva test—Results can be ready within a half hour
tests—Blood tests will be able to tell if the immune system has found HIV
HIV RNA assay—To detect the HIV itself
Tests for other sexually transmitted infections
Blood tests are the only way to confirm a diagnosis. These tests will need to be done even if a rapid test is positive. A diagnosis is needed so treatment can start right away.
HIV can progress to AIDS. A person may have AIDS if:
A type of white blood cell (WBC) called helper T cells drop below a certain level in their blood.
They have other infections that happen with a weak immune system.
AIDS diagnosis. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/aids/diagnosis. Accessed November 10, 2021.
Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://hab.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hab/clinical-quality-management/2014guide.pdf. Updated April 2014. Accessed November 10, 2021.
HIV Testing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/testing.html. Accessed November 10, 2021.
Initial evaluation of the patient with HIV. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/initial-evaluation-of-the-patient-with-hiv-2. Accessed November 10, 2021.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.