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HIV home test kits FAQ

There are a number of options available to test for HIV, the virus that can develop into the condition commonly known as AIDS if it remains untreated. For those who prefer a test that can be taken in the privacy of their own home, HIV self-testing and self-sampling test kits are available in the UK. Learn more about these home-testing methods before deciding if one of them is right for you.

Can I test myself for HIV in the privacy of my own home?

If you would rather not go to a clinic or your GP's surgery to be tested for HIV, it is possible to test yourself for the virus in the privacy of your own home. There are two options to choose from:

  • Self-sampling kit (postal test) – After taking a sample of blood or saliva at home, the samples are sent by post to a laboratory to be tested. A phone call or text will provide you with the results within a week.
  • Self-testing kit – After taking a sample of blood or saliva at home, you use the kit to test for the virus at home. The results will be available within 15 minutes.

These kits have been available since 2015.

What are the benefits of an HIV home kit?

Some people opt for one of these do-it-yourself test kits for the sake of anonymity and privacy, without having to discuss their sexual history with a healthcare provider. Others – such as people in a high risk group, who should be tested regularly – might choose home testing for the sake of convenience or speed. These people might be more likely to take regular tests if they can do them in the comfort of their own homes, when they want and without the need to make trips to a clinic.

Are HIV home kits as reliable as tests offered in a clinic?

A full blood test taken in a clinic is the most reliable type of test and can usually provide accurate results one month after exposure to the virus. However, tests taken at home need a longer period between exposure and taking the test – this is known as the window period – and are not as accurate. If a home test provides a positive result, you will still need a full blood test taken at a clinic to confirm the initial result.

Why should you consider getting an HIV test?

If you think you may have been exposed to an HIV infection, you should be tested. This is because although most people experience some symptoms 1–6 weeks after exposure – such as flu-like symptoms, sore throat, fever and a rash on their chest – these may be mistaken for something else. Afterwards, symptoms may not be obvious until some years after exposure. It takes about 10 years for HIV to develop into AIDS.

However, if an early diagnosis is made, early treatment can start to help avoid developing AIDS. Although AIDS was once a fatal condition, this is no longer the case. With the medications available today, if they are taken early enough and correctly, HIV can be kept in control and no longer develops into AIDS.

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