The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked about certain risks that make your chances of infection higher. If your doctor suspects you have HIV, you will need tests. You should get tested because you can have the virus without symptoms.

You may need:

  • Rapid testing with a saliva test. Results can be ready within a half hour.
  • ELISA or Western blot tests—Blood tests will be able to tell if the immune system has found HIV.
  • HIV RNA assay—To detect the HIV itself.
  • Tests for other sexually transmitted infections.

Blood tests are the only way to confirm a diagnosis. These tests will need to be done even if a rapid test is positive. A diagnosis is needed so you can start getting treated right away.

HIV can progress to AIDS. You may have AIDS if:

  • A type of white blood cell (WBC) called helper T cells drop below a certain level in your blood.
  • Helper T cells are below a certain level than another type of WBC called a lymphocyte.
  • You have certain health problems such as Kaposi sarcoma or pneumocystis pneumonia. These only happen in people who have weaker immune systems.

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