If you've been tested for HIV and are feeling a little unsure about the results, don't worry. You're not alone. In fact, over 50% of people who get HIV tests take them more than once because they don't think their first result is accurate. But what does it mean when your test comes back non-reactive? In this article we'll explain exactly what that means and how to move forward with additional testing if necessary.
The term "non-reactive" is commonly used in reference to HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibody test results. This means that no antibodies to HIV-1 or HIV-2 were identified in your blood sample. A non-reactive result does not necessarily indicate that you do not have HIV; it could mean that you are newly infected with either virus, tested too early after becoming infected for there to be enough antibodies for the test to detect them in your blood sample, or both (see below).
If a person's test result is negative, but they are still experiencing symptoms of HIV, then it may be that their test was a false-negative. This can happen for a variety of reasons:
If your test result is non-reactive, you may not be infected with HIV at all.
You could have a false-negative result, which means that it’s possible that you do have the virus but the test did not detect it. This can happen if the window period has not passed since you were exposed to HIV and during this time there aren’t enough copies of the virus in your blood for detection. The window period is the amount of time between when someone gets infected with HIV and when they start producing antibodies against it.
If your test results say "non-reactive" then this confirms that you do NOT have HIV-1 or 2 antibodies in your blood right now (the same antibody tests used to detect early infection are used here). The “non-reactive" result does not guarantee that no antibodies will ever be detected (a "final negative"). However, in most cases after receiving this type of result from an antibody test, further testing should be done at least every 6 months until either:
If your results are reactive, this likely means that you have been infected with HIV-1 or 2. If your results are non-reactive, it is likely that you are not infected with either virus.
If you tested positive for HIV, then you should be retested after three months to confirm the results. If the test is still positive at that point and/or if there is any doubt as to whether or not it might be a false positive reaction (meaning that although there was enough of the virus present in his blood sample for it to show up on the test) then he should get another confirmatory test such as Western blot analysis which is more specific than ELISA alone.
Non-reactive means that no antibodies to HIV-1 or HIV-2 were identified in your blood sample.
Reactive means that antibodies to HIV-1 or HIV-2 were identified in your blood sample
The test is not 100% accurate and can be inconclusive, which means that you may require further testing.
It's difficult to diagnose HIV in the early stages of infection because your body hasn't had enough time to develop antibodies against it. This can happen if you were infected with HIV recently or if your immune system isn't working properly.
The non-reactive result does not necessarily indicate that you do not have HIV. There are several reasons why this could happen:
Non-reactive does not mean that you do not have HIV. You should get tested again for HIV and other STIs if you are concerned about your results. Reactive also does not mean that you are definitely infected with HIV, as there are many reasons why your test could be positive or negative. The most important thing is to remember that HIV testing is a process so don’t panic if your result doesn't match up with what you expected!