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What does it mean to be HIV positive?

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Quick Answer

Someone who is diagnosed as HIV positive has had two separate tests for HIV antibodies in the body come back with positive results, according to Aids.gov. Someone who is HIV positive does not have AIDS but may develop it in the future.

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What does it mean to be HIV positive?
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Full Answer

For an accurate HIV positive diagnosis, two tests are required, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first test is an immunoassay test, which is highly accurate but cannot be used to make a definitive final diagnosis of HIV.

The second test is a more sensitive test that confirms the presence of HIV antibodies. Antibodies to HIV usually do not form until three to eight weeks after exposure to the virus, so testing done earlier than this is not considered accurate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people don't make enough antibodies for testing to pick up until six months after exposure, but 97 percent of infected individuals have detectable antibodies three months after acquiring the virus.

Because an HIV positive diagnosis indicates the presence of the virus in the body, a person with this diagnosis can pass HIV on to sexual partners or to unborn children in the womb, reports Aids.gov. HIV is not curable, but active medical management of the virus can help prevent it from developing into full-blown AIDS.

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