What Are Rapid HIV Tests?
A rapid test for detecting antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a screening test that produces very quick results, in approximately 20-60 minutes. In comparison, results from the commonly used HIV antibody screening test, the enzyme immunoassay (EIA), are not available for 1-2 weeks.
Rapid HIV Tests
Three rapid HIV tests have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States, though one has since been removed from circulation. Of the remaining two, the OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test was approved November 7, 2002, for use by trained personnel in the diagnosis of HIV infection. OraQuick is a simple, rapid test that can detect antibodies to HIV in finger-stick whole-blood specimens and provide results in as little as 20 minutes. A second FDA-approved moderate-complexity rapid HIV test, Reveal, remains available in the United States for use with serum or plasma specimens. These rapid tests are considered to be just as accurate as the commonly used EIA.
Both the rapid test and the EIA look for the presence of antibodies to HIV. As is true for all screening tests (including the EIA), a reactive rapid HIV test result must be confirmed with a follow-up confirmatory test before a final diagnosis of infection can be given.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention
Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention