World AIDS Day is a global movement to unite people in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It is a day to raise awareness and celebrate the achievements in HIV prevention and care. One of the key tools in the fight against HIV is testing because knowing your HIV status is the first step to accessing life-saving treatment. However, many myths and misconceptions about HIV testing may prevent people from getting tested or trusting their results. In this blog post, we will debunk some of the common myths about HIV rapid tests.
Why are HIV rapid tests important?
HIV rapid tests are important because they can help increase access to HIV testing and diagnosis, especially for people who face barriers to conventional testing. HIV rapid tests can also help reduce the number of people who are unaware of their HIV status, which is estimated to be around 14% of the 39 million people living with HIV globally .
Think about it, knowing your HIV status can help you make informed decisions about your health and prevent transmission to others. If you test positive for HIV, you can start antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as possible, which can suppress the virus to undetectable levels and improve your quality and length of life.
What are some myths about HIV rapid tests?
Despite the benefits of HIV rapid tests, some people may have doubts about their accuracy, reliability, or safety. Here are some of the common myths about HIV rapid tests and the facts behind them.
Myth 1: HIV rapid tests are not accurate.
Fact: HIV rapid tests are highly accurate and sensitive, meaning they can correctly identify people who have HIV. At Artron, the HIV ½ Antibody Test has a diagnostic sensitivity of 99.57% (serum), 98.9% (plasma), and 97.97%(blood) and an overall agreement of 99.74% (serum), 99.63% (plasma), and 99.39% (blood). This means that the chances of getting a false positive result are very low.
Myth 2: HIV rapid tests can give false results because of other infections.
Fact: HIV rapid tests are designed to detect specific antibodies that are produced by the body in response to HIV infection. They are not affected by other infections or conditions, such as malaria or cancer. However, some factors may affect the accuracy of HIV rapid tests, such as the window period.
The window period is the time between HIV infection and the production of enough antibodies or antigens to be detected by the test. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a reactive result for HIV exposure can occur as early as 20 to 30 days, but the window period can extend up to 12 weeks . These reactive results are preliminary and require confirmation through standard laboratory testing .
To ensure the quality of the test kit, you should check the expiry date and the instructions before using it. You should also store and handle the test kit according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, such as keeping it away from heat and sunlight.
Myth 3: HIV rapid tests can infect you with HIV.
Fact: HIV rapid tests cannot infect you with HIV. These devices are designed to prevent any contact between the user’s sample and the provider’s hands. At Artron, we have an ISO13485 Certificate which proves our qualification in manufacturing high-quality rapid tests, so the tests do not pose any risk of HIV infection to the users.
Myth 4: HIV rapid tests are not confidential or safe.
Fact: HIV rapid tests are confidential as they allow you to use them in a private setting. You can also decide who to share your results with and how to access further services, such as counseling and treatment.
Myth 5: HIV rapid tests are not useful.
Fact: HIV rapid tests are necessary and useful because they can help you know your HIV status and take action accordingly. If you suspect that you may have an HIV infection, or you test positive for HIV, you can start treatment as soon as possible, which can improve your quality and length of life and prevent transmission to others.
We hope that this information can help you make informed decisions about your health and encourage you to get tested often. World HIV Day is a day to raise awareness and it is also a day to challenge the stigma that still surrounds HIV and AIDS. By having sympathy and gaining knowledge, you can join the global movement to end the discrimination against HIV and AIDS.
 World Health Organization: WHO & World Health Organization: WHO. (2023, July 13). HIV and AIDS. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids
 Public Health Agency of Canada. (2021, June 16). Approach to HIV screening. Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/hiv-factsheet-types-screening-tests.html