AFB Test

Table of Content

Introduction to AFB Test

Are you feeling sick or weak these days? Have you recently lost weight without any specific reason or cause? You must not ignore these symptoms as they may affect your body long-term. These might be signs of Tuberculosis. Every year, Tuberculosis affects millions of people worldwide. Your doctors might recommend you take an AFB test to get tested for TB or Tuberculosis. 

Acid-fast bacillus (AFB) is a type of bacteria that causes tuberculosis and other chronic infections. Tuberculosis is commonly called TB, a bacterial infection that affects the lungs. It also affects all body parts, including the brain, spine, and kidneys. The person suffering from TB majorly shows symptoms of coughing and sneezing.  AFB tests are usually recommended for people who have symptoms of active TB. These tests help to diagnose the presence of AFB bacteria in your sputum. Sputum is a thick mucus that is coughed up in the lungs. It is different from split or saliva.

If you want to get an Acid Fast Bacilli Test, you must choose Redcliffe Labs as your diagnostic partner. We provide the best diagnostic services experience and will help you get tested from your comfort space. You need to book an appointment online, and our expert phlebotomist will be there on time. 

AFB Stain Test (Acid Fast Bacilli)

Offer Price:

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  • Total no.of Tests - 1
  • Quick Turn Around Time
  • Reporting as per NABL ISO guidelines

Test Details In Brief:

Also Known AsAFB test, Acid-Fast Bacilli test, or AFB stain test 
PurposeIt diagnoses AFB infection & active tuberculosis & monitors treatment response in infected patients.
PreparationDo not take any over-the-counter medicine without confirming with your Doctor.
FastingNo Fasting Required
Get Reports WithinWithin 15 hours
AFB Smear Test CostINR 219

Preparation for Acid Fast Bacilli Test

No special preparation is required to get tested for the AFB stain test. Simply follow the general instructions mentioned below:

  • Consult with a Doctor: If you take any medication, inform your healthcare provider, as any medication will affect the report results. 
  • No Fasting: No fasting is required for the test. 
  • Avoid Smoking or Brushing Teeth: On the morning of the test, avoid smoking or brushing your teeth before providing the sputum sample. Smoking and oral hygiene can introduce contaminants and interfere with the test results.

Procedure of AFB Testing

The Acid-Fast Bacillus test is used to detect the presence of acid-fast bacilli, particularly Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis (TB). Here’s an overview of the procedure for the AFB test:

  • Sample Collection: The AFB stain test requires a sputum sample, the mucus from deep coughing. To collect the sample:
    • Gargle with water to clear your mouth.
    • Take a deep breath and cough forcefully to produce sputum from your lungs.
    • Spit the sputum directly into a sterile, wide-mouthed container provided by the healthcare facility.
    • The collected sputum will be transported to the laboratory for analysis. 

Several types of AFB are detected with this testing, like Mycobacterium. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the most prevalent and infectious species of mycobacteria. The AFB test specifically aims to identify the acid-fast bacilli in clinical samples, such as sputum, bronchial washings, tissue biopsies, and other body fluids. Other mycobacteria, known as nontuberculous (NTM), also cause infection. However, this caused lung infection and disseminated disease in people with weakened immune systems. 

Types of AFB Testing

Several AFB (Acid-Fast Bacillus) tests detect mycobacterial infections, especially tuberculosis (TB). These tests vary in their methods and applications. Some of the common types of AFB tests include: 

  • AFB Smear Test: The AFB smear test involves “smearing” a sample on a glass slide, followed by a microscopic examination. This rapid method yields results within 1-2 days, providing possible or likely indications of an infection. However, it cannot definitively diagnose the condition.
  • AFB Culture Test: The sample is cultured in a specialized environment to promote bacterial growth for the AFB culture test. This method allows for positive confirmation of tuberculosis (TB) or other infections. Nevertheless, results take approximately 6-8 weeks to materialize due to the necessary bacterial growth time.
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs): These tests are based on the amplification of specific DNA sequences of mycobacteria. NAATs include methods like GeneXpert, which provides rapid and automated detection of TB and drug resistance.

AFB Culture Test

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  • Total no.of Tests - 0
  • Quick Turn Around Time
  • Reporting as per NABL ISO guidelines

Purpose of AFB Test

The AFB stain test aims to detect the presence of acid-fast bacilli, especially mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB and other mycobacterial infections. The test has the following objectives:

  • Diagnosing Tuberculosis (TB):  It helps diagnose TB disease, a contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs. Early diagnosis is important for treatment and preventing TB from spreading to others.
  • Detecting other mycobacterial infections-  The test helps detect other mycobacterial infections, such as non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections and infections caused by Mycobacterium leprae (leprosy).
  • Monitoring treatment response: The test also helps monitor medication response. The low amount of acid-fast bacilli in sputum over time indicates a favorable treatment response.
  • Identifying the cause of symptoms: The test detects the high risk of TB, such as those with known TB exposure and weakened immune system. 

Interpretation of AFB Test Reports

The presence of acid-fast bacilli in the sample indicates a positive result, suggesting the possibility of an active mycobacterial infection, such as TB. However, it’s important to note that a positive Acid Fast Bacilli Test does not confirm TB diagnosis by itself. Further tests, such as culture and molecular tests, are often performed to confirm the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and identify drug-resistant strains, if necessary. Here’s how to interpret AFB stain test reports:

  • Positive result: A positive Acid Fast Bacilli Test result indicates the presence of acid-fast bacilli in the sample. This shows the possibility of an active pulmonary TB infection in respiratory samples like sputum. However, a positive AFB test does not confirm the TB diagnosis alone. Additional tests, such as culture and molecular tests (e.g., PCR), may be needed to identify the specific mycobacterial species and confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negative Result: A negative AFB test result means the sample did not detect acid-fast bacilli. The negative AFB stain test does not completely rule out TB, as the bacteria may not always be detectable in early or paucibacillary infections. However, if clinical suspicion remains high, further testing and clinical evaluation may be necessary to determine the cause of the symptoms.
  • Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST): If TB is confirmed through AFB testing or other methods, Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST) is performed to diagnose the susceptibility of the mycobacteria to specific anti-TB medications. 
  • Follow-Up and Clinical Correlation: If the clinical suspicion for TB is high, your doctor may recommend further testing, including sputum culture, molecular tests, chest X-rays, and physical examinations, to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

What if your AFB test is Positive?

If your AFB test is positive, you are at high risk of TB exposure. Consult your reports with your Doctor to take preventive measures and treatment. Your Doctor will provide you with medications like:

  • isoniazid
  • rifamycin
  • ethambutol
  • pyrazinamide

Your Doctor will advise you to take some precautions to reduce the effect of TB and to avoid the risk of expansion:

  • Good Ventilation:  TB can remain in the air for a long without proper ventilation. Thus good ventilation reduces the concentration of infectious particles and decreases the risk of TB transmission. Stay windows and doors open, and avoid overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings.
  • Good Hygiene: Adopt good hygiene techniques, including regular handwashing, covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and using disposable tissues to minimize the spread of TB bacteria.
  • Healthy immune system: Maintaining a good immune system through proper nutrition, exercise, and reducing stress can help you to resist TB infection better.
  • Vaccination: Ensure your child gets Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccines, which are essential to protect against severe forms of TB, particularly in children.
  • Awareness and Education: Raising awareness about TB, its symptoms, transmission, and prevention can help reduce stigma, promote early diagnosis, and encourage treatment adherence.

Combining these measures can significantly reduce the effects of TB, prevent its transmission, and improve overall management. 

When does your Doctor recommend AFB Testing?

Your Doctor will recommend the AFB testing if you are suspected to:  

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of TB like:
    • Cough more than three weeks
    • Fever, chills
    • Night sweats
    • Loss of appetite
    • Sudden weight loss
    • Weakness and fatigue
    • Chest pain
  • AFB testing may be recommended if you have close contact with TB Patients and a higher risk of acquiring the infection. 
  • Doctors may advise AFB testing for high-risk populations, such as those with weak immune systems (e.g., HIV/AIDS patients), healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and people living in crowded or poorly ventilated environments.
  • AFB testing helps diagnose other mycobacterial infections, such as non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections and leprosy.
Symptoms That May Call for AFB Test

Difference between Latent TB and Active TB infection

  • Latent TB: During this phase, the individual does not experience any symptoms and cannot spread TB to others. The bacteria can remain dormant for years and become active later in life. 
  • Active TB: If the immune system fails to control the infection, latent TB can become active TB. In this stage, the symptoms will become visible. The most common symptom is a cough lasting more than three weeks. Other symptoms include weight loss, fever, sweats, fatigue, chest pain, and coughing blood. 

Risk factors of TB 

Certain factors increase the risk of developing TB disease. These include:

  • Weakened Immune System: People with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, malnutrition, or those on immunosuppressive medications are at higher risk.
  • Close Contact with Infected People: Living or working closely with someone with active TB increases transmission chances.
  • Age and Gender: TB is more common in young children and adults over 65. Additionally, men are at slightly higher risk than women.
  • Overcrowded Living Conditions: TB spreads more easily in cramped and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Lack of Access to Healthcare: Limited access to medical services can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Regular smoking and drinking habits may increase the risk of TB
  • Certain medications: Some medications increase the risk. 

Other tests to diagnose Tuberculosis

In addition to the AFB stain test, there are several tests your Doctor will recommend to diagnose the TB symptoms:

AFB Test Price @ Redcliffe Labs 

If you are searching for an “AFB test near me,” you must choose Redcliffe Labs. Here you will get the best and most affordable diagnostic services. The AFB Stain Test Smear Cost at Redcliffe Labs is just Rs. 219. The best thing is the professional phlebotomist will come to your home to get you tested. Your test with express slots and reliable services will be performed within 45 minutes in selected locations. We are your best and most trusted diagnostic health partner and promise to provide top services. So why wait in long queues when you can get tested from your place? Pick your phone and book an appointment now!!

Having cough? Take the AFB test today!

AFB test helps to diagnose tuberculosis and mycobacterial infections. This test helps healthcare professionals to make timely and appropriate treatment plans.  Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns about the AFB testing with the health care provider. Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing TB and preventing its spread to others. So, if you are experiencing the symptoms of TB, it’s time to book a AFB test. Get an AFB test with Redcliffe Labs. By raising awareness and promoting preventive measures, we can collectively work towards a world where TB is no longer a silent invader but a disease under control.


What is an AFB test?

AFB test diagnoses tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections. It involves microscopic examination of clinical samples like sputum to aid in diagnosing TB and other mycobacterial infections.

What is the cost of the AFB test?

The AFB Stain Test Smear cost price is Rs 219 at Redcliffe Labs. You can book your test online, and our professional phlebotomist will visit your home to get you tested.

What does AFB test positive mean?

AFB test positive means the presence of acid-fast bacilli(AFB), which causes tuberculosis (TB).

Who should get tested for TB?

People experiencing symptoms like chronic cough, weight loss, fever, night sweats or close contact with TB patients, and weak immune systems should get tested for TB to identify and treat the infection early and prevent its spread.

Is fasting required for the AFB test?

No fasting is required for the AFB test. You can eat as usual before and after the test.

What is the normal range of the AFB test?

The test results are reported on a scale from 0 to 9, with values above 0 indicating a positive result, suggesting the person has tuberculosis. If the test result is 0, it indicates a negative result which means the absence of tuberculosis.


Kirti Saxena has specialization in sharing credible and well-researched content related to healthcare services for more than 5 years. She is passionate about writing and disseminating health tips and knowledge for betterment of health to individuals and communities. She is experienced in writing health blogs, website content about detailing the health issues & ways to address them, and well-researched content for magazines to educate readers.

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