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  • Also Known As:
  • HIV Self-Test
  • HIV Home Test
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At-home HIV screening is a quick and inexpensive way to determine if you may be infected with HIV.

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Test Quick Guide

HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. As an HIV infection progresses, it increases the risk of cancer and life-threatening infections. In the United States, HIV is primarily spread through sex or sharing of needles with a person infected with HIV. Since HIV does not always present symptoms, it’s possible to have the virus and not be aware of it. About one in eight people in the U.S. don’t know that they have HIV, according to HIV.gov.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone get tested at least once for HIV between the ages of 13 and 64. If you are at risk of HIV, it’s recommended that you get tested more regularly.

At-home HIV testing checks the blood or oral fluid for antigens and/or antibodies that are produced in response to the virus. At-home HIV testing is a form of screening that requires follow-up testing if test results are positive.

The Best At-Home HIV Tests Compared

About At-Home HIV Tests

Purpose of at-home HIV tests

The purpose of at-home HIV testing is to quickly and easily determine if you may have HIV. If you get a positive result on an at-home HIV test, the CDC says you should get confirmatory testing in a medical laboratory as soon as possible.

What do the tests measure?

At-home HIV tests don’t look for the virus itself. Instead, they look for either antibodies alone or both antigens and antibodies. If these substances are detected, the test returns a positive result for HIV.

Antibodies are produced by the body in response to HIV infection. At-home tests that look for antibodies alone detect these substances in the blood or oral fluid. It can take several weeks after an HIV infection occurs for the body to produce antibodies, so it’s best to wait to take these tests until 12 weeks after you think you may have gotten infected.

Antigens are substances that the body recognizes as foreign and that activate an immune response. Testing for both antigens and antibodies at home requires taking a blood sample from a fingerstick. Because antigens appear before the body produces antibodies, HIV tests that look for both antigens and antibodies can detect an HIV infection within only 2 to 4 weeks of becoming infected.

How do at-home HIV tests work?

At-home HIV test kits include everything you need to collect a blood sample yourself and then send it back to a laboratory for testing. Kits will come with lancets to prick your finger and blood cards to collect the sample. You’ll then use the included shipping envelope to return your sample to the laboratory for testing. In most cases, you’ll be notified within a few business days that your results are available to view online.

Since at-home HIV test kits use only a nominal amount of blood, you don’t need to do much to prepare for your test beyond making sure to wash and sterilize the finger you’ll be using — generally a middle finger. You may also want to drink extra water beforehand to help with blood flow.

Which at-home HIV test should you choose?

While most at-home HIV tests look for both antibodies and the p24 antigen, some test kits also include physician follow-up or testing for additional STDs. When choosing a test kit, consider the price as well as reliability. You should look for a kit that uses a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified lab to ensure it’s a high quality lab.

Benefits and Downsides of At-Home HIV Tests

At-home testing is not the same as getting tested in a medical office or lab. While there are many benefits to at-home HIV testing, you should also weigh the downsides before deciding which type of testing is right for you.

Benefits of at-home HIV testing include:

  • Convenience: You can do the test on your own time and without having to set up an appointment or travel to a medical facility.
  • Simplicity: Test kits are designed to make the process straightforward and easy to do in your own home.
  • Transparent pricing: Because you do the sample collection yourself, there are no copays or unexpected technician fees for at-home tests.

Downsides of at-home HIV testing include:

  • Confirmatory tests needed: Although generally accurate, at-home tests are not the final word. Test results, especially for HIV-positive results, need to be confirmed with an additional laboratory test.
  • Potential for errors in sample collection: While kits offer detailed instructions, the safeguards that exist to prevent errors and contamination in a specialized lab are not present in your home environment.
  • Results without a doctor’s guidance: With an at-home test, you won’t have your doctor immediately on hand to explain what the results mean for your health.
  • Varying test quality: Not all tests are created equal, and some tests may be more likely to return inaccurate results.
  • Not covered by insurance: You typically have to pay for at-home tests out-of-pocket and without insurance coverage.
  • Not available in all states: Regulatory requirements limit the availability of some types of at-home tests in certain U.S. states.

The Best At-Home HIV Tests

There are many different types of at-home HIV tests available, so it’s important to consider what type of HIV testing you’re looking for and at what price point before choosing. The following sections provide information about top picks for at-home HIV testing:

Methodology

At-home HIV tests were reviewed based on value, convenience, and availability of tests. These overall factors are based on data including price, insurance acceptance, comprehensiveness of tests, and how quickly you can get results and speak to a doctor. HIV test selections have been screened by Testing.com’s Medical Review Board.

Best Overall

Health Testing Centers – HIV at Home Test Kit

HIV Testing Health Testing Centers

Price: $79
Type: Self-collection
Sample: Finger prick
Tests for:
  • HIV type 1 antibodies
  • HIV type 2 antibodies
  • HIV p24 antigen
Results timeline: Within 3 to 4 business days
Accuracy: Testing is done by a CLIA approved lab
Accepts insurance: No
Physician follow up: No
Prescriptions offered: No

The Health Testing Centers HIV at Home Test Kit includes all the materials you need to take a quick HIV test. Test instructions are available online so you can review the process before ordering, if you’d like.

You can buy your kit online using a credit card, including an HSA or FSA card with the MasterCard logo, or PayPal. To collect your sample, wash and dry your hands, then clean your fingertip with an alcohol pad. It’s generally best to use your middle finger. Use the lancet included in the kit to prick your finger, then place drops of blood on each of the five circles on the blood card, making sure to fill the circle completely. It’s better to go outside the lines than stay too far inside them in this case. Make sure you can see some blood soaking through to the back of the card.

Allow your collection card to dry before closing the card and placing it into the biohazard bag that came with your kit and shipping back to the laboratory via USPS. Once you return your sample, you can expect to get your results within three to four business days. You’ll get an email when your results are ready.

Health Testing Centers uses Molecular Testing Labs, a CLIA-approved lab, for its testing. If at any time prior to sending your specimen back to the lab, you change your mind about using the test, you can get a refund, less $25, to cover the cost of the kit and mailing.
Testers say it’s easy to order and receive tests, complete processing, and ship it to the lab – with fast results.

What’s great about Health Testing Centers’ HIV Test? What’s not so great?
  • Tests for antibodies and p24 antigen
  • Results in as little as 3 business days
  • Partial refund available
  • No physician follow-up
  • More expensive than other options
  • Does not accept insurance

Why is Health Testing Centers’s at-home HIV test the best overall?

If you change your mind before sending your sample back to the lab, you can get $54 back on your Health Testing Centers HIV at Home Test Kit.

Who should use Health Testing Centers’s at-home HIV test?

Sexually active adults seeking discreet, affordable at-home HIV testing.

Best for Physician Follow-Up

Everlywell – HIV Test

HIV Testing from everlywell

Price: $49, or $24.99 with membership
Type: Self-collection
Sample: Finger prick
Tests for:
  • HIV type 1 antibodies
  • HIV type 2 antibodies
  • HIV p24 antigen
Results timeline: Within a few days
Accuracy: Testing is done by a CLIA approved lab
Accepts insurance: No
Physician follow up: Yes
Prescriptions offered: No

The Everywell at-home HIV test looks for both antibodies and antigens using a finger prick test. The high sensitivity of the fourth-generation technique used enables the test to detect HIV 18 to 90 days after exposure with 99% accuracy.

The test kits can be ordered from Everywell’s website to be delivered in discreet packaging. Once you register your kit online, you’ll be walked through how to collect your sample with a few drops of blood from a finger prick. You can then return your sample in the included mailing envelope using the prepaid shipping label. You’ll be notified when your results are ready to be viewed on Everywell’s secure, online platform, which usually takes around five days.

If your test comes back positive, a physician from Everywell’s network will reach out to help you determine the next steps to take.

While tests cost $49, you can get them for nearly 50% off if you sign up for the company’s membership plan called Control.

Users say it’s convenient to test with Everlywell’s kit with simple and clear directions. Most are able to finish the test in five minutes or less without any help, and results are returned quickly. However, some users complain of false positive results, which require a doctor follow-up.

What’s great about Everlywell’s HIV Test? What’s not so great?
  • Tests for antibodies and antigens
  • 99% accurate
  • Physician follow-up if you test positive
  • Timeframe to get results may vary
  • Does not provide medication if you test positive
  • Does not accept insurance

Why is Everlywell’s at-home HIV test the best for physician follow-up?

Everywell’s at-home HIV test checks for both antibodies and antigens and includes a physician follow-up if you test positive.

Who should use Everlywell’s at-home HIV test?

Sexually active adults who would like a physician follow-up if they test positive.

Best Panel Test That Includes HIV

LetsGetChecked – Standard 5

LGC Testing Image

Price: $149 (Get 25% off with your exclusive Testing.com discount code. Use code TESTING25 at checkout.)
Type: Self-collection
Sample: Finger prick and urine sample
Tests for:
  • HIV type 1 antibodies
  • HIV type 2 antibodies
  • HIV p24 antigen
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
Results timeline: 2 to 5 days
Accuracy: Testing is done by a CAP and CLIA certified lab
Accepts insurance: No
Physician follow up: Yes
Prescriptions offered: No

 

If you’d like to get tested for more than HIV, LetsGetChecked’s Standard 5 test is the one for you. In addition to testing for HIV with an antibody and antigen test, the Standard 5 kit also screens for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis, the STDs most commonly tested for by physicians.

The test kit includes a set of instructions, urine sample tube, urine collection cup, papett, four sterile lancets, blood collection tube, band-aids, alcohol wipes, band-aids, gauze, and a return envelope. Before collecting your samples, register your kit online so you can track your test results.

There’s an online video to walk you through using your kit. You must collect your sample before 10 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and return it the same day.

If you test positive for any of STDs or HIV, you’ll receive clinical guidance. Medication is also included if you test positive for chlamydia or trichomoniasis.

People who have used LetsGetChecked’s STD panel say the test arrived quickly, it was easy to take the test in just a few minutes, and they got their results the same week. They found the testing procedure overall very simple to follow and the portal easy to use.

While this is a more comprehensive test, it’s also more expensive at $149. However, you can get 25% off with your exclusive Testing.com discount code. Use code TESTING25 at checkout.

What’s great about LetsGetChecked’s HIV Test? What’s not so great?
  • Tests for antibodies and antigens
  • Over 99.99% accuracy
  • Free physician follow-up if you test positive
  • More expensive than other options
  • More stringent collection procedure
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Why is LetsGetChecked’s at-home HIV test the best panel?

LetsGetChecked’s test will tell you whether you test positive for HIV and four other STDs.

Who should use LetsGetChecked’s at-home HIV test?

Sexually active adults who want to test for multiple STDs, including HIV.

Fastest Blood Test Results

myLAB Box – HIV Home Test

HIV Testing from myLabBox

Price: $79
Type: Self-collection
Sample: Finger prick
Tests for:
  • HIV type 1 antibodies
  • HIV type 2 antibodies
  • HIV p24 antigen
Results timeline: 2 to 5 days
Accuracy: Testing is done by a CAP and CLIA certified lab
Accepts insurance: No
Physician follow up: Yes
Prescriptions offered: No

The HIV Home Test from myLAB Box offers fast delivery and quick results. You can order your kit online for delivery within two to five days. Collecting your sample with a quick finger prick takes only five minutes, then you just need to return it in the prepaid shipping envelope, which will send the sample directly to a CLIA-accredited lab for testing.

It should take only two to five days for the lab to analyze your sample. Once your results are available, you can view them online through myLAB Box’s secure portal. If you test positive for HIV, you can get free post-test telemedicine counseling by emailing myLABbox.

Reviewers say MyLAB Box’s test is discreet, easy to use, simple, and quick with clear results. They appreciate that it’s cost effective with quick results. However, some say they’d prefer to get value range results instead of a negative or positive.

While kits cost $79 normally, you can subscribe for regular testing to save 15%.

What’s great about myLAB Box’s HIV Test? What’s not so great?
  • Tests for antibodies and antigens
  • Results in as little as 2 business days
  • Free physician follow-up if you test positive
  • More expensive than other options
  • Currently unavailable in New York state
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Why is myLAB Box’s at-home HIV test the fastest option?

myLAB Box provides free and fast shipping both to your door and to the laboratory for testing, and makes results readily available online.

Who should use myLAB Box’s at-home HIV test?

Sexually active adults looking to quickly determine if they may have HIV.

Interpreting At-Home Test Results

Generally, results from at-home HIV testing show whether the substance measured by the test was detected in the sample. If the substance was detected, this is reported as a positive test result.

Talking to your doctor is the best way to understand what an HIV test result means for your health. Important considerations related to the results of at-home HIV testing include:

  • Positive tests require follow-up: A positive HIV result on an at-home test requires follow-up with a medical professional.
  • Tests don’t detect recent HIV exposure: Depending on the type of test, it can take days, weeks, or even months for an infected person to test positive. For this reason, a negative result does not rule out an HIV infection if the test is taken too soon after potential exposure.
  • Tests should not guide behavior: High-risk behavior should be avoided regardless of whether a test result is positive or negative.
  • Regular screening may be necessary: Age, gender, health history, and number of sexual partners can affect what to test for and how often. It’s important to talk to your doctor about how often to be tested for HIVs.
  • Testing may cause anxiety: Getting the results of at-home HIV testing can cause anxiety. Consider reaching out to your doctor, a mental health professional, or a support organization to get support for the emotional impacts of testing.

Sources

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