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HIV/AIDS

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FAQ: Inconclusive Test Results

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do "inconclusive" test results mean on a home HIV test?

An "inconclusive" result might mean "insufficient" or "indeterminate."

"Insufficient" simply means that there was a problem with the sample you provided that prevented it from being tested at all.

"Indeterminate" means that the test didn't provide a clear negative or positive result. Someone with an indeterminate HIV test result could be in the early stages of HIV infection, a time during which an HIV test might show a result somewhere between negative and positive. Or the person may truly be HIV uninfected, with the indeterminate result caused by a different viral infection, or just nonspecific antibodies in the blood.

With an inconclusive test result, the best course of action is to repeat the test right away. Retesting through the same home-collection test kit may not be more accurate or "conclusive," and can get very expensive very quickly. We recommend getting retested at a local voluntary testing and counseling site (run by various organizations and searchable on the Internet), or getting tested through your clinic at the VA. Explain your previous indeterminate result to the staff; they should have a protocol for addressing this situation. If there is any chance you might have early HIV infection, your provider should combining a repeat antibody test with an HIV RNA test. For more information on HIV testing, see: Getting Tested
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