A rapid test for detecting antibodies to HIV is a screening test that produces very quick results, usually in 5 to 30 minutes. In comparison, results from the commonly used HIV antibody screening test, the Elisa test can take as long as 1-2 weeks.
Only one rapid HIV test is currently licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States. The availability of rapid HIV tests may differ from one place to another. The rapid HIV test is considered to be just as accurate as the Elisa. Both the rapid test and the Elisa test look for the presence of antibodies to HIV. As is true for all screening tests (including the Elisa), a reactive rapid HIV test result must be confirmed before a diagnosis of infection can be given. That confirmation is in the form of a Western Blot test.