What is a Rapid HIV Test?

It is a screening test that detects the presence of HIV antibodies in a person’s body by testing serum (blood or oral fluid).  The body’s immune system produces these antibodies when infected with HIV, therefore, you would not have HIV antibodies if you are not infected with HIV.  The Rapid HIV Tests is a simple finger prick, and results are available in 15 minutes.


The Rapid HIV Test does not detect HIV antibodies any sooner than standard blood testing and will not identify a new HIV infection sooner (or more “rapidly”) than a standard test. The window period applies to all forms of HIV screening tests.

During the window period of 1-3 months, a person infected with HIV will still be developing the antibodies that are detectable in an HIV antibody screening test, like the Rapid HIV Test.  This means that within the first 1-3 months of becoming infected with HIV, it may not show up in a test yet.  We recommend getting tested at least 3 months after your last possible exposure to HIV so you can feel confident that your results are an accurate representation of your true HIV status

What do my results mean?

There are three types of results you could possibly receive from a Rapid HIV test:
A Reactive or Preliminary Positive Result: This means HIV antibodies were detected in your body. A confirmatory test will be given to eliminate the chance of a false positive result.

A Non-reactive or Negative Result: A non-reactive or negative result means that the test did not detect any HIV antibodies. However, this does not mean you are immune to HIV. It can take up to three months from the time of possible exposure for your body to develop the antibodies to HIV.

An Invalid Result: This means that the HIV test cannot be interpreted. An invalid test result means there was a problem running the test, either related to the test device or the specimen. In this case, another test would be given. You are no more likely to receive a reactive or non-reactive result from an invalid one.

How accurate is the Rapid HIV Test?

The Rapid HIV Test is just as reliable as standard testing done in labs.
Chance of False Positive Results: There is a 0.4% chance (4 out of 1,000) that the Rapid HIV Test will produce a falsely positive or “reactive” result.  This means that 99.6% of the time a “reactive” result will indicate a true HIV-positive result. Therefore, with all reactive results, a confirmatory test is given to determine if the person is actually HIV-positive.

Chance of False Negative Results:  There is a 0% chance of getting a falsely negative or “non-reactive” result.  This means that if your test is non-reactive (negative), then no HIV antibodies are detectable in your body at the time.  However, if you have had a recent exposure (within the past 3 months), the negative result might not be a true indicator of your HIV status and re-testing is recommended after the window period has passed.

What is a confidential test?

All HIV testing sessions are confidential, meaning that the information exchanged between the client and the Life Foundation Prevention Specialist will not be shared with anyone else.

“Confidential” means we create a record . The record contains information such as your name, address, phone number and date of birth. HIV test results a part of this record. Your record is private information and only people who provide you with services in this clinic have access to it.

  • Knowing your HIV status helps us give you proper medical care.
  • We can call to remind you to get your results if you don’t call or come back.
  • We can help you better plan for future safety by knowing what happened in past visits.
  • With a confidential test, there is a way to provide your test result even if you lose your test receipt.

If your HIV results are positive or indeterminate and you are seeking further medical care, and you provide written permission, we can release HIV test results directly to your medical provider.

My location and schedule makes it difficult to come into Life Foundation’s office. Does Life Foundation administer HIV tests outside the office?

We do provide HIV testing in other locations besides Life Foundation’s office. Please call (808) 521-2437 and ask to speak with someone in the Prevention Department to schedule a HIV test in your home, or a public place where you feel comfortable. Or you can email testingtogo@lifefoundation.org to schedule an appointment. Please allow 12 hours for a response.

If I think I have been exposed to HIV, how soon can I be tested?

The tests commonly used to detect HIV look for antibodies produced by your body to fight HIV. Most people will develop detectible antibodies within 3 months after infection, the average being 20 days.

In extremely rare cases, it can take 6-12 months. During this time between exposure and the test, it is important to avoid any behavior that my spread HIV to others, such as unprotected sex and sharing injection drug equipment.

What if I test positive for HIV ?

There are many options for individuals who test positive for HIV. With the recent advancement in medical treatment, many individuals can live a long, healthy, and productive life while being HIV positive. Immediate medical treatment and a healthy lifestyle can help you stay well, as there are now many drugs that treat HIV infection and AIDS related illnesses. Prompt medical care may help delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions. Life Foundation will assist you in finding proper medical and emotional support.