Getting the Right Test for HIV
For more information about getting the right test for HIV:
Contact your study coordinator at the HIV vaccine study site or the HVTN VISP Testing Service at 1-800-327-2932.

Healthcare Providers:
More Info on VISP


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Antibodies prevent infection. Most vaccines cause the body to make antibodies. If you get an HIV vaccine, your body may make antibodies to HIV. Standard HIV tests search for HIV antibodies as a sign of infection. Because of this, your HIV test results could come back positive even if you are not infected with HIV. This is called a VISP (Vaccine-Induced Sero-positive) test result. You may also see this called Vaccine-Induced Seroreactive.

Frequently Asked Questions about VISP

Where can I get the "right" test for HIV?
You can get the right HIV test at the study site for free. After you leave the study you can continue to go to your study site or call the HVTN VISP Testing Service to request HIV testing. The testing is free.

Why don't standard HIV tests look for actual HIV?
Standard HIV tests that look for antibodies are quick, reliable and affordable. Tests that look for the virus are expensive and not commonly used for an initial diagnosis.

What is "opt-out" testing for HIV?
"Opt-out" testing for HIV means that HIV tests may be done routinely unless a patient refuses to have the testing done. For more information on "opt-out" testing visit the CDC website. Visit the NCCC for state-specific information.

Does having VISP mean I'm protected from HIV?
NO. Until there is a licensed vaccine, it is important that you continue to use proven HIV prevention methods.

How will a VISP test result affect me?
If someone believes you are infected with HIV, you could face discrimination and/or other problems. For example, you could have problems with medical or dental care, employment, insurance, a visa for traveling, or entry into the military. If you are planning to apply for insurance, employment, or the military, inform your study site right away. The HVTN can work with them to ensure the right test to will show your true HIV status.

What if I want to donate blood or organs?
In order to donate blood or organs, the donation site will screen you using an HIV antibody test. If you test positive for HIV antibodies you may be unable to donate an organ. You may also be permanently banned from blood donation even though you are not infected with HIV.

How long does VISP last?
If you have tested VISP, the antibodies may fade quickly or they may last for several years. In some cases, participants continue to test VISP for more than 15 years.

How can I explain VISP tomy healthcare provider?
No one can force you to have an HIV test for any reason.

  • If anyone asks to test you for HIV or to draw your blood, tell them you are in (or have been in) an HIV vaccine study and you need to get all your HIV tests at the study site.
  • Explain that being tested outside of your study site or the HVTN VISP Testing Service could result in an incorrect diagnosis of HIV infection.
  • Give the provider your study coordinator's contact information. Ask that the provider call the study site or HVTN VISP Testing Service directly, 1-800-327-2932.
  • If you have to, simply say "no" to the HIV test, and then ask the study site or the HIV Vaccine Trials Network to help.

Can VISP be passed from one person to another?
In most cases, no. If you have tested VISP you cannot pass the antibodies to another person by kissing or participating in sexual contact.

If you are pregnant, there is a chance that you may pass the vaccine antibodies to your baby. This happens with other vaccines, like the tetanus vaccine, but the antibodies from the mother are temporary and go away over time. The HVTN can arrange for you and your baby to have accurate HIV testing for free for as long as it is needed.

What happens if I move away from where I participated in an HIV vaccine study? What if the study site has closed?
Call the HVTN VISP Testing Service at 1-800-327-2932 during business hours, Pacific Time. The HVTN VISP Testing Service provides HIV testing for participants who have received an HIV vaccine in a National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-funded HIV preventive vaccine study and who are no longer able to be tested at their study site.

Am I eligible for the HVTN VISP Testing Service?


  • If you participated in an HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group (AVEG), or HIV Network for Prevention Trials (HIVNET) HIV preventive vaccine study, AND
  • If you received an HIV vaccine*, AND
  • You are willing to provide consent for blood draw and HIV testing.


  • If you have a confirmed HIV infection, OR
  • If you are currently enrolled in an HIV Vaccine Trial,** OR
  • As a former study participant, you received a placebo.

*If you are not sure if you received an HIV vaccine, call the HVTN VISP Testing Service,

**If you are currently enrolled in an HIV vaccine trial, your testing is provided by your trial site. If for some reason you are unable to be tested at your site, you can contact the HVTN VISP Testing Service, 1-800-327-2932.

Will my information be confidential?
Yes. All of your information will be stored in a limited-access, password-protected, secure computer database. No identifying information concerning the testing will be released to any third party without your written approval, except when required by law.

How long does the HVTN VISP Testing Service take to provide test results?
Approximately 2-4 weeks.

What if I live outside the U.S.? Will I have access to the HVTN VISP Testing Service?
The HVTN VISP Testing Service is open in the United States. In the future we plan to expand outside the U.S.