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HIV blood test - STI test kit
  • Easy to take a sample
  • Confidential results in 3 working days
  • 5th generation HIV test

At home HIV test kit

Our HIV blood test kits contain full instructions for you to take a finger prick blood sample at home and send it our laboratory for testing. HIV blood test results are ready in 3 working days and are completely confidential.

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HIV blood test - STI test kit
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  • Easy to take a sample
  • Confidential results in 3 working days
  • 5th generation HIV test

How to take a HIV test

Watch the video for a step-by-step guide for using the lancet to collect a blood sample to send back to the lab for testing. 

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    About the at home HIV tests

    On this page

    What is a HIV blood test used for?

    The kit tests for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). 

    We use a 5th generation HIV test – one of the most sensitive tests that is currently available. The blood sample that you provide will be tested for: 

    • HIV p24 antigen (protein found in the HIV cell) 

    • HIV-1 antibodies (made by your body to fight HIV-1) 

    • HIV-2 antibodies (made by your body to fight HIV-2) 

    Antigens (protein found in the HIV cell) and antibodies (made by your body to fight HIV) are detectable at different stages of HIV infection.  

    If you are unsure whether you need this test, you can take our free STI assessment.

    What is the required sample for HIV test?

    You will need to produce a blood sample using a small finger pricking device, contained within the kit. You will only need to produce a small amount of blood and it shouldn't hurt. Full instructions are contained within the test kit and you can view them here.

    When should you test for HIV?

    The ‘window period’ is the time period between potential exposure to HIV e.g. sex without a condom, and the point when the test will give you an accurate result.

    Tests done too early may not be accurate.

    The HIV blood test is unlikely to detect HIV if you have contracted it in the last 45 days. However, if you are worried about a specific risk within the last 45 days, you should still do the test, but we recommend that you purchase another test to do 45 days after the last exposure.

    Accessing your HIV blood test results

    Test results are normally ready within 3 working days from your sample arriving at our partner laboratory. When your result is ready, you will receive a text and an email advising you to log in to your Patient Record.

    If your HIV result is 'reactive' (i.e. potentially positive) or indeterminate, we will phone you to discuss these results with you. If we cannot get through, we will send you a message to your Patient Record asking to arrange a telephone consultation as soon as possible. We may also need to contact you if your sample is labelled incorrectly.

    How to use your at home HIV blood test

    Read the instructions included in the HIV blood test kit before you start.

    1. Collect your samples following the instructions
    2. Complete and detach the enclosed form
    3. Return your samples in the box, seal it and post them 

    How do I read my HIV test results?

    This test will give you 1 of 2 results:

    Reactive

    This means that there is a possibility that you have HIV. We will provide a breakdown of which parts of the test have come back positive. However, the test might have simply reacted with a flu or cold virus and you will need to have further tests. A reactive result does NOT mean that you definitely have HIV but that does meant you need further tests.

    Negative

    This means that there are no signs of HIV in this sample. If you have not been exposed to HIV within the last 45 days, you don’t need to do anything else.

    How accurate is a HIV blood test?

    This test is very accurate at telling you if you have HIV or not.

    But no test is 100% accurate but it should pick up HIV if it is done at the correct time. If you think you have contracted HIV in the last 45 days, you should still do the test as it might pick up the infection but you should do another test 45 days after the potential exposure.

    If you are in any doubt, we advise that you go to your nearest sexual health clinic, or visit your GP.

    Important information about the HIV test kit

    This test kit is not suitable for you if:

    • You think you have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours.
    • You have any symptoms of HIV
    • You have tested positive for HIV in the past.

    If you think you have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, you should seek URGENT medical advice from your local sexual health clinic, GP or Accident & Emergency, as HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) may be recommended as treatment.

    If you have symptoms, you should NOT use this service. You require a face to face assessment at your local sexual health clinic or GP. If you have a skin rash; flu-like illness; fever; sore throat; headache; swollen lymph nodes; and think you are at risk of having HIV, you should seek URGENT medical advice from your local sexual health clinic or GP.

    If you are known to be HIV positive or have recently tested positive, you should seek medical advice from your local sexual health clinic or GP.

    HIV test confidentiality

    Your test result will be completely confidential. We will not inform your GP or anyone else of your test result or that you have used our service unless you specifically ask us to.

    How is HIV transmitted?

    HIV can be spread through unprotected sex (without a condom) or sharing a needle with someone who is HIV positive. HIV can be carried within:

    • Blood
    • Semen
    • Vaginal fluids
    • Rectal fluids
    • Breast milk  

    What are the symptoms of HIV?

    Symptoms of HIV are the same for men and women. These can include:

    • Fever and high temperature
    • Severe headaches
    • Sore throat
    • Muscle aches
    • Joint pain
    • Body rash
    • Feeling tired
    • Swollen glands
    • Skin lesions 

    However, HIV can be symptomless. The infection goes through stages. The asymptomatic stage is where someone with HIV will experience no symptoms.

    Can you contract HIV from someone who has asymptomatic HIV?

    Yes, you can get HIV from someone who has asymptomatic HIV. The virus is still active, even though the person has no symptoms. This means they can pass it to other people through unprotected sex.  

    How soon can HIV be detected?

    If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

    It’s possible to prevent infection within the first 72 hours (about 3 days) of exposure by taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). HIV can be detected after 45 days (about 1 and a half months) of you being exposed to the virus. Find out more about when to get tested

    What helps to prevent HIV?

    HIV can be spread through unprotected sex including oral sex. Using condoms and dental dams can help prevent HIV. Getting regularly tested for STIs can also help. Find out more about how to protect yourself against HIV.  

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