HIV test results may be negative, reactive, positive or equivocal.
Negative: If a test result is negative, this means the patient does not have HIV unless the test was performed within the window period, in which case it should be repeated after the window period if HIV is suspected.
Reactive: A reactive test result usually means the patient has HIV but, whatever type of test was first performed, a confirmatory laboratory blood test should always be done to confirm the result.
Positive: A positive result is usually given after a first reactive test followed by a confirmatory blood test which is also reactive. At this point, an HIV diagnosis is confirmed.
Equivocal (or indeterminate): If an initial test is reactive and the confirmatory test is negative, this usually means the first result was a false positive and the patient does not have HIV. However, it may occasionally occur in very early seroconversion . A repeat test in 2-4 weeks is usually advised in this situation.
Failed test: Occasionally, the laboratory is unable to report a result if the blood sample provided is insufficient or there was some other technical problem, such as a faulty control. In this case, a new sample should be taken.