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CDC recommends that every human between the ages of 13 and 64 should go for an HIV test at least once as part of a routine health checkup. There are mainly three types of HIV diagnostic tests: nucleic acid tests that are known as NAT, antigen or antibody tests, and last but not least antibody tests.
NATs test is to find the actual virus in the blood. This test is very expensive and is not routinely used for HIV screening unless the person recently had a high-risk exposure.
A test can normally detect HIV infection between 10 to 33 days after exposure. Antigen or antibody tests for finding both HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when you are exposed to viruses like HIV.
Antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate. If you got HIV, an antigen called p24 is produced even before antibodies develop in your body.
This test normally detects HIV infection between 18 to 45 days after exposure. Antibody tests look for antibodies to HIV in your oral fluid or blood.
These tests normally take between 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection after exposure. You can select an antigen/antibody or an antibody test for the initial HIV test.