At The Center, our test counselors utilize 4thGen rapid testing technology. The Alere Determine Rapid HIV-1/2 Ab/Ag is a fourth-generation test that detects two factors in the blood: HIV antibodies and p24 antigens.
When an individual contracts HIV, the immune system starts to produce HIV antibodies. This is the body’s defensive response for trying to fight the virus. These antibodies can take from 2 weeks to 12 weeks after infection to be detectable via testing. The immune system produces these antibodies in response to p24 antigens. P24 antigens are actually a part of the virus itself, and they tend to appear within 1 to 4 weeks of HIV entering the body. Therefore, the Determine test can detect the virus before the immune system starts producing HIV antibodies. This is because p24 antigens appear before HIV antibodies. This allows for earlier diagnosis of HIV so individuals can seek medical care to begin treatment sooner, and become undetectable faster. That is the goal! #UequalsU
Along with the Determine test, The Center also offers the UCSD Early Test research study. Enrollment in the Early Test study includes a specialized viral load test that can detect acute (very early stage) HIV infection as soon as one week after potential exposure. Study protocol includes both a Rapid HIV screening along with a blood draw for a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT.)