HIV Testing

Lateral flow testing for HIV.

HIV Rapid Self-Test: A Convenient and Confidential Way to Know Your Status

HIV is a serious health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. In the UK, an estimated 106,890 people were living with HIV at the end of 2020, with around 5,000 of them unaware of their infection.

Early detection and treatment of HIV are crucial for preventing the virus from progressing to AIDS and reducing the risk of transmitting it to others. HIV rapid self-tests are a convenient and confidential way to know your status without having to visit a healthcare provider.

What is an HIV rapid self-test?

An HIV rapid self-test is a simple and easy-to-use diagnostic tool that allows you to test yourself for HIV in the privacy of your own home. The test kit usually contains a small device that you use to collect a sample of blood. The device detects the presence of HIV antibodies in the sample and provides you with a result within minutes.

How accurate are HIV rapid self-tests?

HIV rapid self-tests are highly accurate, with a sensitivity of over 99% and a specificity of over 99%, on average. This means that if you have HIV, the test is very likely to detect it, and if you don’t have HIV, the test is very unlikely to give a false positive result. However, it’s important to note that the test may not detect HIV during the window period (23 – 3 months after potential exposure) which is the time between infection and the development of detectable antibodies. 

Who should use HIV rapid self-tests?

HIV rapid self-tests are recommended for people who are at risk of HIV infection and want to know their status. This includes people who:

Have had unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown or positive
Have shared needles or other injecting equipment with someone who has HIV
– Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Have been sexually assaulted
Are planning to start a family and want to know their HIV status

HIV rapid self-tests are not recommended for people who:

– Have had a recent exposure to HIV (within the last 4 weeks)
– Are experiencing symptoms of acute HIV infection, such as fever, rash, sore throat, and swollen glands
Have been diagnosed with HIV before and are on antiretroviral therapy (ART)

How to use an HIV rapid self-test?

Using an HIV rapid self-test is simple and straightforward. The following are the general steps involved:

1. Read the instructions carefully before you start.

2. Collect a sample of blood according to the instructions.

3. Insert the sample into the device and wait for the result.

4. Interpret the result according to the instructions.

5. Seek medical advice if you have a positive result.

Where to get HIV rapid self-tests?

HIV rapid self-tests are available at

In the UK, several brands of HIV rapid self-tests have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and are available for purchase. Many of these tests are manufactured in China and their quality may not be on par with some of their Swiss-made counterparts. One such test found to be of excellent quality and value for money is the premium Swiss-branded Abingdon Health HIV Rapid Home Test (available for sale at £18.99 ex VAT
Here are some facts and stats about HIV in the UK:
1. In 2021, approximately 2,955 people were newly diagnosed with HIV. This was a 0.2% decrease compared to 2020 where there were 2,961 newly diagnosed cases of the HIV virus and a further 33% fall from 4,408 newly identified cases in 2019.

2. It is thought that the COVID-19 pandemic, first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on the 11th March 2020, is responsible for the decrease in numbers of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in the UK over the last few years.

3. Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the most affected group, accounting for 54% of new HIV diagnoses in 2019.

4. Black African communities are also disproportionately affected, accounting for 38% of new HIV diagnoses in 2019.

5. HIV testing rates have increased in recent years, with 85% of people living with HIV in the UK diagnosed and aware of their status.

6. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective in suppressing the virus and preventing transmission. In 2019, 97% of people receiving HIV care in the UK were on ART.

7. HIV-related deaths have significantly decreased in the UK in recent years, with 338 deaths in 2019 compared to 1,770 in 2001.

8. Despite progress, stigma and discrimination remain major challenges for people living with HIV in the UK, impacting their mental health and quality of life.


In conclusion, HIV rapid self-tests are a convenient and confidential way to know your status and take control of your health. If you think you may be at risk of HIV infection, consider getting tested with an HIV rapid self-test. Remember, early detection and treatment of HIV can make a big difference in your health and quality of life, and protect others from the risk of infection.
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