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HIV 1-2 Antigen and Antibodies Fourth Generation with Reflexes

Also Known As: Fourth Generation HIV, 4th Generation HIV, HIV Antibody/Antigen Test, HIV Test, HIV-1 and HIV-2 Antibody And Antigen Evaluation, HIV p24 Antigen Test

What Is A HIV-1/2 Antigen and Antibodies, Fourth Generation, with Reflexes Test?

The HIV-1/2 Antigen and Antibodies, Fourth Generation, with Reflexes helps show whether you are infected with HIV or not. It is the recommended standard rapid test for your routine HIV screening. You will be able to see instant results in just about one to two days, making it one of the most reliable HIV tests available out there.

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks and destroys the cells present in your immune system. The cells are responsible for protecting your body against different disease-causing bacteria, germs, fungus, and viruses. If you lose excessive immune cells, your body will become weak and unable to fight off infections and other diseases. Millions of people contract HIV every year, but most remain unaware of their condition. Being tested for HIV is indeed the best way for you to determine your current HIV status.

HIV testing has come a very long way within the past few years, and today patients can undergo several instant and simple ways to get tested. However, not all HIV testing is the same or delivers accuracy or other advantages. One in seven people with HIV infection doesn't know about it, so if you are thinking about getting tested, it is better to opt for the 4th generation test to see more accurate and reliable results over other methods.  

The most significant benefit of this test is that it can detect HIV infection earlier and more accurately. After diagnosis, you can start getting treatment sooner and potentially prevent the spread of infection to other people.

What Is The Test Used For?

The HIV antigen-antibody test, also known as the 4th generation HIV test with reflexes, looks for antibodies to the HIV and p24 antigen, specific to this chronic condition. Antibodies for HIV usually start to develop in the body several weeks after exposure. These antibodies are easy to detect up to 12 weeks from the beginning of the exposure in most cases. 

However, it is easy to detect antibodies in some individuals as early as 4 weeks from exposure to the infection. The p24 antigen is a viral protein that makes up most of the HIV viral core or capsid. The antigen level is usually highest after a few weeks of exposure but can drop to undetectable tiers when antibodies develop. Since this test combines the screening for both antibodies and antigen, doctors use it to detect a significantly higher number of early infections compared to previous HIV screening generations.

Apart from antigen and antibody screening, this test also involves supplemental testing with the extra cost (in the circumstance of a positive result). If the initial test results are positive, your doctor will run it multiple times. If the additional test results also come back with a positive result, they may ask you to undergo an HIV Multispot test to confirm the diagnosis. 
This additional test delivers differentiated testing for antibodies specific to both HIV 1 and HIV2. If the test results are negative or intermediate, a qualitative RNA test will be performed to look for the genetic material of HIV.

Why And When Do You Need A HIV-1/2 Antigen And Antibodies, Fourth Generation, With Reflexes Test?

Your doctor or health care provider will ask you to undergo this test if you are showing flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes

These symptoms usually disappear within a week or month, and you may not have any other symptoms for several years. If not diagnosed properly or left untreated, HIV can destroy your immune system and eventually cause AIDS, i.e., autoimmune deficiency syndrome. The symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Shaking chills or fever for several weeks
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swelling of lymph nodes for several weeks
  • Persistent headaches
  • Unusual, consistent infections

You are eligible for this test if:

  • You are a man in a sexual relationship with another man
  • You have new or multiple sex partners
  • You have had unprotected sex with someone with HIV
  • Share or have shared injections and other drug needles
  • You have symptoms related to sexually transmitted diseases
  • Partaking hepatitis or tuberculosis
  • Have had multiple sexually transmitted infections in the past

What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?

The fourth-generation test is often performed with a small sample of your blood. A doctor or lab technician draws blood from your arm using a needle or from a finger stick. This sample is then sent to a laboratory by the clinic where you were tested. Generally, you can get the results in a few days, but it can take a little bit longer, depending on your lab.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

You don't need any special preparations for this test. However, you must talk with your healthcare provider or counselor for better interpretation and meaning of your results and your treatment options if you test positive for HIV.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

HIV-1/2 antigen and antibodies, fourth generation, with reflexes test carry little to no risk. 
If you are getting your blood test done from a lab, be ready to experience slight pain or bruising at the puncture spot. These symptoms may last for a few minutes and quickly go away on their own.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

This test is used to help diagnose HIV 1 and HIV 2 infection, including acute infection, and differentiate HIV 1 from HIV 2. The test results will be consistent with the HIV diagnostic algorithm suggested by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Positive test results confirm the detection of acute HIV infection based on the presence of p24 antigen before seroconversion. 

These results allow for earlier diagnosis information of treatment plans for the affected individual. When the test results are positive, your doctor will also perform an antibody-based HIV1/HIV2 test to confirm the infection and identify whether it is due to HIV Type 1 or HIV type 2 virus.

Remember that the differentiation test will be negative during acute infection, i.e., prior to developing antibodies. If your test results come back negative, your doctor will perform a reflex test on the specimen to detect the presence of HIV-1 or HIV 2 RNA to identify the acute infection.

Related Tests: Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1) Blood Test, CD4:CD8 Ratio Blood Test Profile, HIV-1 DNA Blood Test, Qualitative, PCR

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 04, 2023. 


HIV-1/2 Antigen and Antibodies, Fourth Generation, with Reflexes (SEND OUT)

What is a 4th generation HIV test and how does it work?

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