HIV self-testing

What is HIV self-testing?

HIV self-testing is a new way for people to test for HIV. In the past, individuals could only be tested for HIV at a service. Self-testing allows individuals to test in a variety of settings including their own home.

HIV self-testing is when an individual tests themselves for HIV using a kit designed for personal use. A person takes their own blood sample and performs a simple test then reads their own result. HIV self-testing does not give a positive diagnosis - any HIV self-tests with a positive result must be confirmed by a health care professional.

Frequently asked questions

Confusingly, HIV self-sampling and HIV self-testing are both sometimes called home testing. However, there are clear and important differences.

  • When someone uses HIV self-sampling, they take their own sample of blood or saliva and post it to a lab, which conducts the test and sends them the result.
  • When someone uses HIV self-testing they take their own small blood sample, perform a simple test then read their own result.

If you would like to purchase HIV self-testing kits privately you can do so from the BioSURE website.

Some people will test HIV positive. Sometimes this might be a false positive (i.e. a test error). Most often it will mean that you are HIV positive.

If you get a positive result you should arrange to visit a clinic or GP to get your result confirmed. All positive results need to be confirmed by a laboratory test. You can also phone for support to interpret the results or if you are worried about being HIV positive.

It can be a shock to get a positive result, so you will need support. The earlier you find out, the better this is for your health. Everyone in the UK has free access to monitoring and treatment for HIV, even if they are not a resident. HIV treatment is very effective and life expectancy is now close to life expectancy for people who are HIV negative.

Should you want support, to speak to someone about your HIV care or help finding a nearby clinic, THT Direct runs a hotline which you can access from 10 am – 8 pm Monday to Friday. The number is 0808 802 1221 or you can visit the THT Direct webpage.

If you require support outside of these times or if you require urgent support, you can call the NHS urgent and emergency care line by dialling 111 on your phone. This service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Further information

Self-test kit image
Further reading

You can find out more about HIV self-testing at the following websites: