HIV diagnostic tests: an overview

Contraception. 2004 Aug;70(2):141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2004.03.012.


This article provides an overview of different HIV diagnostic tests, describing how they work and the advantages and limitations of the various tests. This article also briefly reviews the structure and genetic diversity of HIV, the mechanism the virus uses to infect host cells and the different phases of HIV infection. This information is included to facilitate understanding of how HIV diagnostic tests work and what molecular markers these tests use to pinpoint an HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HIV / genetics
  • HIV / isolation & purification
  • HIV Antibodies / analysis
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV-1 / chemistry
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • HIV-1 / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / virology
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Core Protein p24
  • RNA, Viral