Or p24



Keywords: p24 antigen test, p24 antigen, protein 24 antigen, p24 capsid or core antigen, p24 antigen capture assay, hiv, aids, p24 protein, hiv antigen, hiv antigen/antibody combination testing
Description: Describes how the p24 antigen test is used, when the P24 antigen test is ordered, and what the results of a p24 antigen test might mean

Most often, p24 antigen testing is performed as part of a combination test that detects both p24 antigen and HIV antibody and is used to screen for and help diagnose an HIV infection. Occasionally, it may be used as an individual test to screen for early HIV infection. Early treatment of HIV infection and immune system monitoring can greatly improve long-term health. Also, if a person knows his HIV status, it may help change behaviors that can put him and others at risk.

The level of p24 antigen and the amount of virus (viral load ) increase significantly soon after initial infection. It is during this time frame, before HIV antibody is produced, when the p24 test and the HIV antigen/antibody combination test are useful in helping to diagnose infection. About 2-8 weeks after exposure, antibodies to HIV are produced in response to the infection and remain detectable in the blood thereafter, making the HIV antibody test useful for detecting infections then. Use of a p24 antigen test as an individual test has declined in the U.S.

A combination p24 antigen/HIV antibody test may be ordered as part of routine screening for HIV. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 13-64 have a test done at least once. Annual screening is recommended for people at increased risk. For more details, see the screening pages for Teens. Young Adults. Adults. and Adults 50 and Up .

When the HIV antibody test is negative and a person has had a recent exposure to HIV, a p24 antigen test may be ordered to detect the infection in the earliest stages.

A positive result means that a person is likely infected with HIV. However, a positive screening test requires that a second test be performed to establish a diagnosis.

A negative result most likely means that a person is not infected with HIV or that the level of p24 is below the detectable limits of the test. If someone suspects that he has been exposed or if he is at an increased risk, repeat testing with a combination HIV antigen/antibody test is recommended.






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