Approved instant result HIV self-test kits are now available for sale on-line. These kits are not available via the NHS. Here’s our guide to what you need to know about them:
Instant result self-test kits for HIV do just what the name suggests: they are kits you can use to test yourself for HIV. They give a result straight away.
You can buy self-test kits online, but be careful: only buy kits that you can be sure meet European standards and carry the ‘CE’ mark. There’s no way to be sure other tests are safe or reliable. So far, the only test kit that has this CE quality mark is the BioSure HIV Self Test.
These kits are very accurate if they’re used correctly: but it’s very important to follow the instructions that come with the kit carefully. Also know that it can take up to three months for HIV to show up in your blood. If you’re concerned or confused in any way, talk to your GP or staff at your local sexual health clinic.
Remember, instant result self-testing is just one way of testing for HIV. You might prefer to be tested by a health worker. NHS tests are free, confidential and can be anonymous. They also give you the chance to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections at the same time, to talk about any concerns you have and to be referred to other services you might need. The address bookprovides details of all services across Lothian where you can be tested.
If you do want to use a self-test kit, have a think beforehand: how you would feel and what would you do if the test shows you might have HIV? Do you have questions or want to talk about it with a health worker first? It’s also a good idea to figure out where you could go for a follow-up test or for support.
If your self-test kit result says you have HIV, get it confirmed: go and get tested by your GP or at a clinic to confirm the result if it’s positive. This is standard practice for all HIV tests, and will make sure you get the information, care and support you need quickly. There isn’t a cure for HIV but treatment is very effective and people can live long and healthy lives.
If you get a negative result, it’s likely you don’t have HIV: so long as you followed the instructions carefully, you don’t need a follow-up test to confirm it. It’s a good idea to think about whether you need to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections, though. And remember: test for HIV regularly if you are having unprotected sex, and the best ways to prevent HIV are to use condoms and never share injecting kit.
For more information, testing or support:
• HIV Scotland
• Waverley Care