What Does a Nonreactive Result for HIV Antibodies Mean?

A nonreactive, or negative, result obtained from a rapid HIV immunoassay test indicates that no HIV antibodies were detected. The nonreactive result, however, does not rule out the possibility that the individual tested has been infected with HIV, as stated on the West Palm Beach Community Health Center website. Because the HIV antibodies can take up to 3 months to form after first contact with the virus, a second test is required if less than 3 months have passed since the most recent possible exposure.

The rapid HIV immunoassay test can provide point-of-care results in about 30 minutes after an oral fluid or blood sample is collected. The chance of a false positive is 0.4 percent, or 4 out of 1,000.

RNA tests can detect the actual virus before the antibodies form. These tests can detect an HIV infection after about 10 days have passed from the point of exposure, as reported on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.