What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks the host's immune system, weakening its ability to fight infections and disease.
HIV is found in the bodily fluids of an infected individual. This includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, breast milk, and blood. The virus is most commonly passed on through unprotected sex (vaginal or anal) but it can also be passed on by sharing infected needles and other injecting equipment.
If an HIV infection goes untreated it can develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, or late-stage HIV infection). However, if diagnosed earlier, the infection can be treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) which can enable people with HIV to live normal, healthy, active lives.
Why get tested for HIV?
Initial infection with HIV causes 80% of people to develop flu like symptoms around 2-6 weeks after infection. The classic three symptoms that often appear are sore throat, high temperature and a blotchy red rash. Other symptoms often include tiredness, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches and swollen glands. These symptoms can last up to four weeks and are often mistaken as a mild viral illness or flu.
It’s important to get tested regularly because someone with undiagnosed HIV can look and feel healthy for years, but the infection will be damaging their health. They can also pass the infection on to others.
It's estimated that around 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV, but around 1 in 4 don't know they have it.
What is the window period?
The test is highly accurate after 4 weeks and 100% after 8 weeks.
After a person has been infected with HIV, there is a four-week gap – commonly referred to as a 'window period' – where the virus may not be detected by a test. After this window period, the reliability of the test result increases significantly. If you think you’ve been exposed to risk of HIV, you can test sooner, but should also re-test after 6-8 weeks to be sure of your status. You should not wait for the window period to pass before seeking help and advice.
The test.me test
To complete the HIV test you will need to collect a finger-prick blood sample. (See collecting your samples) for guidance
The test.me screen is a 5th generation CE marked laboratory test that checks for the presence of HIV antigens and antibodies.
There are three types of results that can come from our test: non-reactive, invalid, and reactive.
- A non-reactive result means that no HIV antibodies or anitgens were found. A non-reactive test does not mean that a person is immune to HIV in the future, only that they do not show the virus in their body at the time of the test.
- An invalid result means that the test did not work properly and it will have to be repeated. If you receive this result, please contact us for a full refund or replacement test kit.
- A reactive result suggests that HIV antibodies or anitgens were found in the sample.
As with any other home HIV testing service, a reactive result needs to be confirmed with a confirmatory test in a clinical setting before an HIV-positive diagnosis can be made.
Results can take up to ten working days, however in many cases are available sooner. If you have chosen to combine your HIV with a Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Screen, results for these tests may be available earlier than your HIV results.