Understanding a Positive Result

What does a positive HIV result mean?

If you use an antibody test that returns positive, you will need to take another test to ensure the first one was accurate. If you get a positive result from a community program or a self-test, you should go to a doctor to get tested again. If you get tested in a lab, and it's positive, the lab will do the follow-up testing. If the second test is positive, it means you have HIV.

What should I do if I just got diagnosed with HIV?

If you just got diagnosed with HIV, you should tell your doctor everything about your medical history and the medications you are currently taking. You should also start taking antiretroviral medications as soon as possible.

When you receive an HIV diagnosis, you may experience many emotions—sadness, hopelessness, or anger. Allied health care providers and social service providers can help you work through these feelings and find HIV care and treatment that will help you live a long, healthy life.

HIV treatment can make the virus undetectable. That means there is such a low level of the virus in the blood that it can't be detected by a test. It's important to have an undetectable viral load because it's the best way to stay healthy and protect others.

If I test positive for HIV, does that mean I have AIDS?

No, it does not. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection, and people living with AIDS experience a weakened immune system, which can lead to life-threatening illnesses.

HIV is a virus that can make a person very sick. If a person with HIV doesn't get treatment, they might get AIDS. AIDS is when a person's immune system gets very weak and can get sick easily. But if someone with HIV takes their HIV medicine like they're supposed to, they can stay healthy and might never get AIDS.