HIV Drug Resistance and Subtype Testing
Information for Clients

This information sheet will help answer your questions about the HIV drug resistance and subtype testing program.

On this page:
What is an HIV “subtype”?
What is “HIV drug resistance”?
How is drug resistance and subtype testing done?
Will everyone that gets an HIV test also receive an HIV drug resistance and subtype test?
Will anyone know about you or your HIV tests?
How do we know if HIV is resistant?
Can a person be infected with resistant HIV before taking any HIV medicines?
Why is HIV drug resistance and subtype testing important?
How can you get the HIV drug resistance and subtype test results?
When can your doctor get the results of the HIV drug resistance and subtype test?
If your HIV is resistant to drugs does that mean you would not be helped by HIV medicines?
Whom can you contact if you have questions about HIV drug resistance and subtype testing?

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HIV Drug Resistance and Subtype Testing Information for Clients
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What is an HIV “subtype”?
Like the flu virus, there are many different strains of HIV. HIV strains are identified by a letter. For example, the most common strain in the United States is subtype B.

What is “HIV drug resistance”?
Sometimes when a person takes medicine or drugs prescribed by a doctor for HIV, the HIV can change to become resistant to those drugs. If this happens, the drugs may not work as well to treat that virus. The HIV is said to be drug resistant.

How is drug resistance and subtype testing done?
These tests are done on the same blood sample you give for your HIV antibody test or as a routine part of your initial visit to an HIV doctor. The blood sample is sent to the MDH Public Health Laboratory and the drug resistance and subtype testing is done there.

Will everyone that gets an HIV test also receive an HIV drug resistance and subtype test?
No. If you test positive for HIV you may be eligible for a second test that determines the subtype of HIV and checks to see if the virus is resistant to any drugs. This second test is free of charge. It is done on the same blood sample you give for the first HIV test. You will receive a free HIV drug resistance and subtype test through this program if:
· You were diagnosed with HIV infection within the past 12 months, and
· You have not already taken any HIV drugs.

Will anyone know about you or your HIV tests?
Minnesota State law makes all of your HIV testing and health care information private. This privacy or confidentiality means no one is allowed to talk about you or give information out about you unless you or your doctor request copies of your test results. All requests are treated confidentially. There are strong penalties for anyone breaking the confidentiality laws.

How do we know if HIV is resistant?
Doctors have two different types of blood tests to look for drug resistance in HIV. These tests are done at special laboratories. Doctors use the results of these tests to help pick the right drugs for fighting off the type of HIV in a person’s blood.

Can a person be infected with resistant HIV before taking any HIV medicines?
Yes. If a person has drug resistant HIV, he or she can pass it on to another person. If the person you got HIV from had drug resistance, that HIV resistance could be passed to you.

Why is HIV drug resistance and subtype testing important?
Your doctor can use the test results to pick the best drugs to treat your HIV. Since most people do not have a resistant form of HIV when they first find out they have HIV and because the test is expensive, doctors rarely order the test for new HIV patients.

The information from this testing program will also help MDH learn what strains of HIV are spreading in Minnesota and which treatments might be best for people living here. Understanding the amount of HIV drug resistance and the different subtypes in the community can help improve HIV prevention and medical care in Minnesota.

How can you get the HIV drug resistance and subtype test results?
You can choose a medical provider to receive the drug resistance and subtype test results by telling the HIV counselor at the time you receive your HIV test results or by asking your doctor to contact MDH on your behalf. The drug resistance test results should only be interpreted by trained medical personnel. If you wish to obtain a copy of the results for yourself, you must visit MDH in person and show valid photo identification.

When can your doctor get the results of the HIV drug resistance and subtype test?
The test results can be sent to your health care provider in about 3 to 4 weeks after MDH receives the blood sample.

If your HIV is resistant to drugs does that mean you would not be helped by HIV medicines?
There are lots of medicines to treat HIV. Sometimes HIV drugs do not work as well on resistant HIV, but they may still have some benefit. If your HIV is resistant, your doctor can use the test results to help pick other drugs that will work.

Whom can you contact if you have questions about HIV drug resistance and subtype testing?
You may ask any questions about HIV testing including drug resistance testing at any time now or in the future. Your HIV testing counselor or health care provider can answer many of your questions. Your doctor or health care provider is the best person to answer your questions about treatment for HIV.

You can also contact MDH to:
· Find out how to get your HIV drug resistance and subtype testing results
· Ask questions about the program.

Test results will not be given over the phone. Please see the contact information listed below.

For more information about the Minnesota Department of Health’s HIV drug resistance and subtype testing program, please visit our HIV/AIDS Surveillance web site.

If you would like to speak to someone at the Minnesota Department of Health about this program, please call 651-201-5414.

If you have been diagnosed with HIV infection and have questions about medical or social services available to you, please contact:
Minnesota AIDS Project AIDSLine Attention: Non-MDH link.
Metro: (612) 373-AIDS or (612) 373-2465 TTY
Toll-Free: 1-800-248-AIDS or
1-888-820-2437 TTY

Content Notice: This site contains HIV or STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV and other STDs are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this web site.

Updated Tuesday, 22-Jul-2014 13:09:06 CDT