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How accurate are HIV saliva tests?

What is an HIV saliva test?

An HIV saliva test uses oral fluid to check for antibodies to HIV, typically both to Type 1 and 2. The at-home test kit allows the user to collect an oral fluid sample by swabbing their upper and lower gums with the test device, and presents a sufficiently reliable alternative to blood tests.

Saliva HIV test accuracy

A 2014 study reported that two major FDA-approved brands of oral fluid (saliva) at-home tests have an overall sensitivity (accuracy) of about 87-88% in patients who had an undetectable HIV viral load in their plasma due to antiretroviral therapy.

However, in those with a detectable viral load, these numbers were much stronger — 95-96%. In certain at-home saliva tests, the accuracy can go up to 99,2%.

Generally speaking, saliva HIV test accuracy is the lowest out of the at-home HIV tests, especially if testing before the 3-month mark following suspected exposure. It is recommended to do at least two saliva tests in order to maximize the probability that the result is accurate.

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