What is HIV self-testing?
An HIV self-test allows you to test yourself for HIV. It uses a drop of blood from a finger prick and gives you a result within minutes. The test looks for HIV antibodies and is over 99% accurate when used correctly.
Why should I get tested for HIV?
HIV testing is one way to look after your health. It also helps to look after the health of your sex partners and the people you use drugs with.
It is a good idea to test for HIV if you:
- are sexually active; or
- use injection drugs.
How does the self-test work?
The self-test kit includes a lancet and bandage, three bottles of liquid and a test device. It works best at room temperature and in low humidity.
To take the test, you will need to:
- Wash and dry your hands. It may be easier to draw a blood sample if your hands are warm.
- Lay out the contents of the kit on a flat surface.
- Use the lancet to prick your finger and get a drop of blood. It may help if you rub from your palm toward the tip of your finger with firm pressure.
- Let a full drop of blood fall into Bottle 1 (red cap), making sure it is caught in the bottle and doesn’t spill over the side.
- Cap Bottle 1 and turn it upside down to mix its contents. The liquid should be dark red; add another drop of blood if it is not.
- Pour the liquid from Bottle 1 into the test device and let it absorb.
- Turn Bottle 2 (blue cap) upside down to mix its contents and then pour the liquid into the test device and let it absorb.
- Turn Bottle 3 (clear cap) upside down to mix its contents and then pour the liquid into the test device and let it absorb.
- Read the results immediately in a well-lit area (as sometimes the results are faint).
The test kit includes printed instructions on how to take the test, and a QR code you can scan to watch a video if you prefer. Make sure to follow the directions exactly.
What does a positive result look like and what should I do if I get one?
If there are two dots, this is a positive result. It means that you most likely have HIV. However, to confirm the result, you need to get a standard HIV test where blood is taken from your arm and sent to a lab for testing.
Finding out you may have HIV can be stressful. Take your time to process the news. Know that HIV treatment is very effective. It allows people with HIV to live long and healthy lives and prevents HIV from passing to others during sex.
What does a negative result look like and what should I do if I get one?
If a single dot appears at the top of the test device, this is a negative result.
The test does not always identify recent infections. If you may have been exposed to HIV in the last three months, you should test again in three months to be sure that you don’t have HIV. If you are sexually active or use injection drugs, it may be a good idea to test regularly.
There are many ways to prevent HIV. Read about the options at www.catie.ca/sevenways.
What does it look like if the test didn’t work and what should I do if this happens?
If there is one dot at the bottom of the test device or no dots at all this means the test did not work. You should use another self-test kit or get a standard HIV test.