Can a Regular Blood Test Detect HIV?
August 15, 2016
Routine blood work is in fact a battery of separate tests, all run on samples of your blood. Each test looks for a different thing. While there's no reason why the tests shouldn't include a specific test for HIV, this isn't necessarily routine practice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages medical professionals to routinely offer HIV testing to people living in areas where HIV is a common medical problem. They should also offer testing to people whose behavior may put them at increased risk. But patients should be specifically informed that HIV testing is part of routine care and have the opportunity to decline HIV testing.
And implementation of the CDC's guidance is patchy. While an HIV test could be included with your routine blood work, there's a very strong chance that it isn't.
Typical routine blood tests include the complete blood count (CBC) that measures your red and white blood cell numbers as well as hemoglobin and other numbers. Abnormal increases or decreases in these cell counts may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluation. But this is not a sensitive test for HIV infection.
Other tests often included examine your blood glucose, calcium, electrolyte, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
You could ask your healthcare provider whether he or she could include an HIV test alongside your other blood tests.
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