November 19, 2023

HIV Test Results - What Does Nonreactive Mean?

The word nonreactive is a medical term that means the test didn't detect HIV antibodies or antigens in your sample. A nonreactive result is a good thing because it suggests that you are not living with HIV.

However, there is a small window of time when HIV can show up in your body before your immune system makes the antibodies that a HIV test looks for. This means that if you were exposed to HIV recently, you might still have a positive test result. This is why it's important to get tested again if you engage in risk behaviors like unprotected sex or sharing needles.

There are also tests that look for the actual HIV virus itself rather than just the antibodies. These tests, known as nucleic acid (NAT) tests or viral load tests, can tell you how much HIV is in your blood at any given time. NAT tests are more accurate than antibody or antigen tests and are usually done in combination with antibody/antigen testing.

If you have a negative test result, your doctor might recommend getting regular NATs or viral load tests as part of your care plan to see whether your infection is progressing. Getting regular testing can also help you catch the disease earlier and start treatment sooner.

For more information about understanding HIV test results, visit myHIVteam. There you can find a community of people with HIV who are there to support each other and share tips. You can also find resources for counseling services and healthcare from specialized clinics.


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