Finding out early about the infection allows you to begin treatment immediately, improving your health and extending your life. Early detection also helps you take precautions to prevent spreading HIV to others.
This article answers whether normal blood tests like the Complete Blood Count test can detect HIV infection.
Can a normal blood test detect HIV?
Routine blood tests cannot detect HIV. Specialized tests like finding HIV antigens and antibodies, when performed at the right time, can help detect HIV accurately. In simple words, the blood tests do not include an HIV test. You will not be able to detect HIV unless you ask your doctor for the test.
The general blood tests include blood sugar tests, blood fat tests, and liver enzyme index.
- Blood sugar test measures sugar levels in the blood to help diagnose the risk of diabetes. For accuracy in the results, blood must be collected after eight or more hours of fasting.
- Blood lipid testing also aids in the diagnosis of elevated blood cholesterol. The blood fat test measures cholesterol and triglyceride levels, including total triglycerides, HDL (good cholesterol), and LDL (bad cholesterol). When blood cholesterol exceeds 2.50 g/l, it is considered high. Triglycerides are considered high when > 2 g/l.
- The liver enzyme index test helps determine alanine aminotransferase concentrations (ALAT or SGPT) and aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT or SGOT). These parameters aid in diagnosing liver diseases.
Can CBC detect HIV?
A Complete Blood Count (CBC) test also falls under routine blood tests. The CBC test quantifies the components of blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and their properties, like the size and amount of hemoglobin in the given blood sample.
The CBC test helps identify basic abnormalities in the blood, enabling subsequent tests to diagnose the exact cause of the disease.
However, the CBC can provide the first clue that you may be infected. For example, When your white blood cell count is high, your body is likely battling an infection. Other tests can then be performed to pinpoint the cause.
Low white blood cell counts can be due to HIV medications, conditions that affect the bone marrow, or blood infections such as lymphoma that destroy white blood cells.
Similarly, a low platelet count is common in people with advanced HIV but can also be caused by certain HIV drugs or opportunistic infections.
How is HIV detected?
Several types of blood tests are performed to check whether you are infected. HIV cannot be detected immediately because your body takes time to make antibodies or enough of the virus to grow inside.
The various HIV testing types include:
- Standard HIV blood test
- Rapid blood test
- Antibody/antigen test
- Rapid oral test
- Urine test
- Nucleic acid tests (NAT)
A positive test result indicates that you may have traces of HIV in your body. Healthcare providers never diagnose HIV based on a single test result. If you had a rapid test, get a standard lab test to confirm it.
Even if you test positive for HIV, you may not already have AIDS, the most advanced stage of the disease. Talk to your doctor immediately about starting medications called antiretroviral therapy (ART) if you have any HIV symptoms; HIV treatment can prevent you from getting AIDS.
It takes several blood tests to confirm if a person is HIV infected. Normal blood tests like CBC cannot detect HIV. However, the CBC test can indicate an early sign of an infection.
Visit us at Grace Laboratory if you want to get your blood tested.