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How does the test work?

The test is like a home pregnancy test: you will do the test yourself and see the result within a few minutes. The test checks for HIV antibodies in a small sample of your blood. After you've followed the instructions in the kit, the result appears on the test device.

One dot appears on the test to tell you it's working. If antibodies are present, a second dot appears. You do not need to send any part of the test back to us. The test can only be used once.

Watch this video to find out more about how the test works:

Is the test accurate?

The test has a proven sensitivity of at least 99.8%, which means at least 998 in 1,000 negative results are correct. The test is CE marked, which means it complies with the essential requirements of relevant European health and safety regulations.

It is possible there can be a positive result, which when tested again is negative. This is called a false positive. On average, between 2 and 5 in every 1,000 positive test results will be incorrect.

That's why it's important that any positive result on this test is confirmed with a second blood test by a healthcare professional.

Will you pass my data to anyone else?

We pride ourselves on achieving high levels of confidentiality and data security. We will share your name and address securely with Bolloré, the company who will send out your test. They will only use this data to post you the testing kit. We will not pass on your data to any other organisations.

What is the test kit like?

Your test will arrive in a discreet, unmarked package. The test box includes:

  • three bottles of liquid used for the test
  • a small casette where the result appears
  • a lancet used to get a drop of blood
  • a pipette to collect the blood sample
  • a plaster
  • a disposal bag
  • information about the test and your result

How long will the test take to arrive?

The test should be with you within a few days of ordering and no longer than a week.

What if I think I was exposed to HIV in the last few days?

The test will be most accurate from three months after exposure to HIV, although you may test as little as 21 days after infection. It can take as long as three months produce a positive result and a negative result may not be accurate until three months after infection.

If you have been exposed within the last 72 hours, you may be able to stop the virus taking hold by taking a course of Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Check the Terrence Higgins Trust website for more details about PEP.

The test will have a use-by date, so please make sure you use the test by this time. The test is a third generation antibody test, which means it detects antibodies to HIV in your blood, rather than the HIV itself.

Can I order the test for someone else?

No, you may only order the test for your personal use and you may only order one test in this pilot period (April/May 2017).

What if my result is positive?

Please let us know your result. We'll then be able to help you get the support you need. The easiest way to do this is using the link in your order confirmation email. You can also visit the result page.

You should also contact your local sexual health clinic. The test has a specificity of 99.5%-99.8%, which means that on average at least 995 in every 1,000 positive results are correct. Your doctor or clinic will conduct a second test to check your status and, if this confirms that you have HIV, they will provide advice on starting treatment.

Knowing you are HIV positive helps you take measures to control the virus by starting treatment. Taking treatment, and using condoms when you have sex, will also prevent you from passing the virus on to anyone else.. For advice over the phone, call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 between 10am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

What if my result is negative?

It's important that you let us know your result in order to help us evaluate the success of this service. The easiest way to do this is using the link in your order confirmation email. You can also visit the result page.

For the vast majority of people, a negative result is accurate. However, if you were exposed to HIV within the past three months, the test may still give a negative result as it takes time for the HIV antibodies to build up (this is known as the window period).

If you are worried about an exposure in the last three months you should repeat the test at least three months after the potential exposure happened. It is important to test regularly, especially if you change sexual partners. Take the It Starts With Me quiz to get an idea of how often you should test.

Can I use the test if I'm on treatment for HIV?

The test is designed for people who don't know their HIV status. If you know you are HIV positive, there is no need to take the test. If you are on antiretroviral therapy, you may not have enough HIV antibodies in your blood for the test to work and could see a negative result. This would not mean you no longer have HIV. Treatment does not cure HIV, it only reduces the amount of virus in your body and so it's important not to stop treatment or miss doses.

Can I use the test if I'm on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?

There is some evidence that HIV self tests may not work as well in people who are taking HIV medication (either for treating HIV, for PrEP or for PEP).

There is currently no data available on how the bioLytical HIV self test will perform if you're on PrEP and there is a chance that it may not work correctly. Until more is known about this we advise people on PrEP not to rely solely on the result of an HIV self test.

What if my test didn't work?

If your test didn't work (for example, if the first dot on the test did not appear), then please let us know. The easiest way to tell us is using the result link in your confirmation email but you can also visit the result page directly.

If you have any further questions, please contact THT Direct on 0808 802 1221. The phone line is open between 10am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

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Copyright 2017 © Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (reg. no. 288527), company reg. no. 1778149 and a registered charity in Scotland (reg. no. SC039986).

Information Standard Last reviewed: 21/06/2016
Next review: 21/06/2019