HIV Home Test Kit

With this HIV home test, you’ll have results within a few days

If you are concerned about HIV, this HIV home test kit lets you get checked without having to see a doctor or nurse. You take a small blood sample and mail it to our partner laboratory to get your results.

Our prices

Medicine Strength Quantity Price Stock
HIV test (1+2)N/A1 test kit£29.99In Stock
HIV test (1+2 and P24 AG)N/A1 test kit£34.99In Stock
Prices exclude a prescription fee. This treatment requires a quick online consultation,
which a doctor will review to determine if a prescription is appropriate.

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Information

Dr Samantha Miller

Reviewed by Dr Samantha Miller MB ChB
(2017, University of Glasgow)
GMC number: 7561464

Information last reviewed 12/02/2021

About

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a viral infection that attacks T cells, a type of white blood cell, reducing the body’s ability to protect itself against infections, diseases and other conditions.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is a virus that infects and damages certain cells within your body’s immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final and most advanced stage of HIV and describes a number of infections and conditions which occur when the immune system has become severely damaged.

HIV symptoms

Most people experience a short-lived flu-like illness 2–6 weeks after being infected with HIV. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Night sweats
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain

Experiencing these symptoms does not automatically mean that you have HIV, but it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are concerned.
Many people live with HIV for years with no symptoms and do not know they are infected. 
 
Although untreated HIV can be asymptomatic for up to 10–15 years, it is still active during this time, causing damage to the immune system. Eventually, the infected person will experience symptoms that reflect their weakened immune system. These may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Frequent minor infections such as thrush and cold sores
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Night sweats
  • Skin problems
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Serious infections such as TB and pneumonia
  • Cancers 

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent damage to your immune system.
 

What are the long term effects of HIV?

If it is not treated, HIV inevitably leads to AIDS. AIDS is the final and most advanced stage of HIV and describes a number of infections and conditions which occur when the immune system has become severely damaged. At this stage, the risk of developing a life-threatening illness is greatly increased, as the body is extremely vulnerable to infections.

How does the HIV test work?

The test uses a small sample of your blood to test for markers of HIV infection.

There are two tests available. 

The first test checks for the presence of antibodies to the two known types of HIV virus (HIV-1 and HIV-2). Antibodies are produced by your own body to fight HIV and appear 3–12 weeks after the initial infection and persist indefinitely. This test may take up to 12 weeks after exposure to become positive. A positive result usually indicates that you have been infected with HIV. 

The second test not only detects antibodies to HIV-1/HIV-2 but also detects the presence of a protein present on the HIV virus called p24 antigen (AG). This protein is usually highest in the 2–4 weeks immediately following initial infection and slowly tails off to an undetectable level. This particular test may produce a positive result sooner than the antibody-only test as the p24 antigen is usually detectable before antibodies in most people who have recently contracted HIV. Therefore this test may be more suitable if you have recently (within 2-3 weeks) been at risk of HIV exposure. 

How to use the HIV home test kit?

Carefully read the instructions before you start the process of taking your sample. Make sure everything is filled out and labelled correctly, and that you have washed your hands. Clean your chosen fingertip using the Alcotip swab and allow to dry. Take one lancet out and remove its protective cap. Push the end of the lancet down firmly onto the skin of the pad of the fingertip to puncture the skin. Wipe away the first drop of blood that appears. Holding the finger over the collection tube, gently massage the finger to produce more blood. Let the blood drip into the tube until it has filled to the required line. Screw on the lid. Invert the tube 5–10 times, but do not shake! Place the labelled tube into the prepaid return packaging and post as soon as possible.

How will I find out my results?

Once the laboratory receives your sample, it is usually processed within 2–3 days. When your results are ready, you will receive an email. If you have provided your mobile phone number, you will also receive an SMS text with your results.

How reliable is the HIV home test kit?

Home HIV testing kits are very reliable and are highly likely to give the same results as a test performed at your doctor or a hospital. Using a damaged test kit or not performing the test correctly can reduce its reliability. 

If you are worried your test has been damaged or not performed correctly, please contact us for a fresh test kit. 

The best time to get tested for HIV is 4 weeks after any potential exposure. HIV has an incubation period of around 4 weeks which means it may not be immediately detected on a test. This is known as the ‘window period’. In rare cases, it may take up to 12 weeks for the virus to be detectable, so it is recommended to take a further test 12 weeks after any potential exposure.

In very rare cases, (less than 1 in 1000), the test may produce a false positive. This means the test result is positive but the individual does not have HIV. 

If you have concerns about the reliability of any result you have received, you should speak with your doctor.

How accurate is this test?

Home HIV testing kits are over 99% accurate. For maximum accuracy, you should follow the instructions correctly and ship your sample as soon as possible. No single test can give a 100% guarantee that you do or do not have HIV. If you receive a positive result, you will be advised to see your doctor for a further blood test and to discuss treatment. 

What should I do if I get a positive result?

Getting a positive HIV result can be a shock. The first step is to talk to your doctor. You will likely need a further confirmatory blood test. If you are confirmed as HIV positive, you will be referred to specialist HIV services to discuss starting treatment. The Terrence Higgins Trust is an excellent source of advice and support.

Treatment Options

How is HIV treated?

While there isn’t a complete cure for HIV, the treatments available can reduce the risk of transmission to nil, and allow HIV-positive people to lead a normal life. Treatment is with antiretroviral drugs which are normally in tablet form and are taken every day. The aim of treatment is to reduce the amount of virus in the blood (the viral load) to an undetectable level. When the viral load is undetectable this means you cannot transmit the virus to someone else. 

Those who are at a high risk of contracting the virus may choose to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a preventative measure. This is a modified version of the regime used to treat HIV and effectively prevents transmission of HIV from an infected person if taken correctly. 

Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated for up to 72 hours following potential exposure to HIV. This can prevent the virus from infecting the individual if taken promptly.

Is there a cure for HIV or AIDS?

While there is no cure for HIV, there are effective treatments which reduce the risk of transmission and allow individuals to lead a long and healthy life. The aim of treatment is to reduce the amount of virus in the blood (the viral load) to an undetectable level. When the viral load is undetectable this means the virus cannot be transmitted to someone else.

How to live with HIV?

With early diagnosis and treatment, most people with HIV live a long and healthy life. With effective treatment, progression to AIDS can be prevented in most cases. If you test positive for HIV, the best ways you can help yourself are:

  • Speak to your doctor and begin treatment as soon as you know your result is positive.
  • Make sure your healthcare provider has experience in treating HIV.
  • Ensure you follow your treatment plan, taking your medication every day.
  • Learn as much as you can about the virus and how it can influence your life.
  • Seek support from friends, family, social care providers, mental health services and other support organisations. 
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol.
  • Practice safe sex using condoms.

Q&A

Will anyone be able to tell what’s inside the package?

Test kits are dispatched in plain, discreet packaging with no indication as to what is inside.

Is the home test kit confidential?

Yes, this test and your results are 100% confidential. The testing kit is also sent to you in plain, discreet packaging.

If I get a positive HIV result, am I obligated to inform my employer?

People with HIV are protected under the Equality Act (2010) which means most employers are not allowed to ask you if you are HIV positive, and if you do choose to inform them, they cannot discriminate against you because of your status. Exceptions include healthcare workers who perform exposure-prone procedures (such as surgeons and dentists) and those in the armed forces. In these positions, your HIV status could affect your work, depending upon your job contract and the employers policies. Employers must keep your HIV status confidential and provide reasonable adjustments to help you if appropriate.

Who is at a higher risk of HIV?

Anyone can contract HIV, regardless of their sex, ethnic origin or sexuality. However, certain groups are at higher risk of contracting HIV:

  • People who have unprotected sex.
  • People residing in areas of high HIV prevalence.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • Individuals who engage in anal sex.
  • People of Black African ethnicity (both men and women).
  • People who have sex in exchange for money.
  • People who inject drugs.
  • People who use drugs when having sex e.g. chemsex. 
  • People with a history of STIs, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People who have had multiple sexual partners.

People in these groups are advised to take regular HIV tests if they are engaging in activities that may expose them to HIV.

Why are men who have sex with men at a higher risk of HIV?

Men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of HIV for a number of reasons. The following factors help to explain why men who have sex with men are more likely to contract HIV:

  • HIV is more likely to be transmitted through unprotected anal sex than other types of sex because the walls of the anus are more likely to tear, which can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream.
  • Men who have sex with men are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, statistically increasing the risk of contracting STIs including HIV.
  • In many countries and cultures, gay sex is illegal or taboo. This creates a barrier to testing, treatment and advice for those at risk of HIV.

Is this test designed for men who have sex with men?

This test kit is suitable for anyone who may have been exposed to HIV. Men who have sex with men are a high-risk group for infection with HIV and are advised to take an HIV test regularly (at least once a year) if they are having unprotected sex. 

Can you catch HIV from kissing?

HIV is not transmitted in the saliva and cannot be transmitted via kissing.

Can you contract HIV by any other means that sex?

HIV is transmitted mainly via blood and sexual fluids. It is most often transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, but can also be transmitted through the use of shared sex toys. HIV can also be spread via the blood through the sharing of drug injecting equipment and tattoo or piercing needles. HIV can also be contracted if you have a blood transfusion from an infected individual, or if you accidentally become injured by a needle previously used with an HIV positive person in a healthcare setting. HIV can also be passed from a mother to her child in the womb, during birth, and through breastfeeding.

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