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Frequently Asked Questions

A HIV self-test is an alternative testing method that puts you in control. Rather than visiting a clinic and waiting for your results, you can choose to self-test for HIV wherever and whenever you choose, with results in minutes. HIV self-testing involves someone collecting their own sample and then performing the test themselves. Instructions are provided to allow the user to be able to follow the test process whilst also allowing them to read and interpret their own results.

You may want to talk to someone before performing your HIV test or have someone with you while you do, but self-testing can be performed by yourself if you choose. One thing to consider when self-testing is what you are going to do when you get your result – whether positive or negative. It is always your choice.

The technology is very similar to a pregnancy test but detects specific antibodies to HIV in your blood sample. When your body detects something harmful (like a bacteria or a virus) your immune system begins to produce antibodies to try and defend your body. Each type of antibody is unique, and everybody makes them at different rates. The BioSURE HIV Self Test is extremely easy to use; 3 simple steps are all it takes to know your status.

Our test is proven to be extremely effective at diagnosing HIV. Extensive research has evidenced our kit to be exceptionally usable and tremendously accurate when performed correctly.

  • It has a proven clinical sensitivity (if a person has HIV how often the test will be positive) of 99.7%, this means that on average 997 in every 1,000 positive results will be correct.
  • It has a proven clinical specificity (if a person doesn’t have HIV how often will the test be negative) of 99.9%, this means that on average 999 in every 1,000 negative results will be correct.
  • If you are at all unsure of your result you must go and see a healthcare professional to perform another test.

    You need to visit a specialist HIV clinic or A&E department as soon as possible, where you may be able to access a course of PEP (anti HIV medication). Our test will not give you an accurate result only 72 hours after potential exposure.

    The BioSURE HIV Self Test was the first CE marked HIV self-test and is strictly regulated and highly scrutinised to make sure we meet stringent standards. We must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If you are buying another test, it is essential it has a CE mark specifically for 'HIV Self Testing' and not for 'Professional Use Only' for it to be approved. The CE mark should have 4 numbers underneath it, so please check carefully. 

    Self sampling is when you are posted a test kit and collect your own (quite large) blood sample at home to then post off to a lab. You then get your result a few days later by text or a phone call. An HIV self-test is where you perform your own test at home and get your result while you wait.     

    You will get your own result in 15 minutes

    Blood is where your antibodies are. In some countries there are oral fluid HIV tests available, but these are not as sensitive (ie miss true positive HIV cases by giving a false negative result) because oral fluid only has 1/800th of the amount of antibodies.

    You can have your test discreetly delivered to your home or another address of your choice. You can also choose to collect from a Hub Box depot across the UK. You can also buy you BioSURE test from platforms such as Amazon and other on-line pharmacies or in pharmacy stores across the UK.

    You can test as often as you choose, although it is recommended that if you make choices that put you at an increased HIV risk exposure it is a good idea to test every 3 months.

    This is the global testing algorithm and any initial positive test result, even if it is performed in a lab, must be confirmed by a different type of test. If the positive result is confirmed, you generally start anti-retroviral treatment straight away. 

    At the moment there is no definitive data about the use of our HIV self-test and people on PrEP, with the main reason being that people on PrEP do not contract HIV so it is impossible to perform the evaluations to confirm whether our test is suitable for people who are on PrEP. 

    The BioSURE HIV Self Test detects antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 including all subgroups of HIV i.e., Subtype O. 

    To protect your privacy, a sealable, opaque polythene bag is included with your test. Place all the components back into the box, place this into the bag and seal. You can throw the bag away discreetly with your usual rubbish.

    All BioSURE HIV Self Test devices have an inbuilt sample control line to make sure you know that your test has been performed and run correctly. If there are no lines on your test and you have definitely pushed the tip right down to the bottom, then something hasn't worked properly, and you will need to test again with a new device.

    A positive test result can always be relied upon but a negative result within the first 3 months following your exposure incident may not be accurate because you haven't produced antibodies yet. There is more information here. If you have any doubts about your result or have any symptoms you should visit your local healthcare professional. If you are not sure of the exact timing of the risk incident, you should test again after 3 months.

    Firstly, don’t panic, HIV is treatable - remember HIV is 3 letters, not a sentence. Your BioSURE HIV Self Test is extremely accurate, but you must go and see a healthcare professional who will perform another test to confirm your result. The earlier diagnosis is made, and treatment started, the better the outcomes. You can phone the NHS on 111 or use the postcode searcher to find your nearest Sexual Health Clinic. 

    A positive test result can always be relied upon but a negative result within the first 3 months following your exposure incident may not be accurate because you haven't produced antibodies yet. There is more information here. If you have any doubts about your result or have any symptoms you should visit your local healthcare professional. If you are not sure of the exact timing of the risk incident, you should test again after 3 months.

    You must remember that from initial HIV infection it can take up to 3 months for your body to produce enough antibodies for your test to give a positive result. If you have any doubts about your result or have any HIV symptoms you should contact a healthcare professional who can perform another test. Don't put yourself or others at risk based on your test result. Using condoms is an effective and easy way to protect your own and others sexual health. Choose to Stay Negative.

    You may see a faint red mark at the very bottom of the test strip – this is simply your blood sample. It is not a line.

    Remember that a negative result cannot be relied upon until 3 months after the possible exposure, because everybody makes antibodies at different rates (seroconverts) and for a few people that can be up until 12 weeks. A positive test result is always a positive test result.

    Whether you receive a negative or a positive result, the choice is yours. A negative result 12 weeks post exposure is conclusive which means that no antibodies have been detected and you do not need to retest unless you have another risk exposure.

    Your result may be visible before the 15 minutes, but you must not read your result or take it as final until the 15 minutes read time. You also should not read your result 1 hour after performing your test as the result may appear different. The result visible between 15 minutes and 1 hour is reliable. After 1 hour, you should dispose of your test.

    The time from when HIV infection occurs to when a test can correctly give a positive result is called the ‘HIV window period’ or ‘HIV test window period’. During this period, someone who has been infected with HIV could still get a negative HIV test result because they may not have produced the antibodies needed to generate a positive result. This does not mean the person testing is negative. 4 weeks after exposure about half of people have made the antibodies, by 6 weeks after exposure this goes up to about 95%, however some people don't make these antibodies until up to 12 weeks after infection. This is why it is so important Why can I test from 4 weeks?

    Although the window period is 12 weeks, you can test during this period, but a negative result is not conclusive until 12 weeks post exposure. A negative result at 4 weeks post exposure is a good indication but just remember that only around 50% of people create detectable levels of antibodies by 4 weeks.

    The window period for the BioSURE HIV Self Test is 12 weeks (84 days or roughly 3 months), during this time antibodies will be produced in response to infection. Everyone produces antibodies at different rates but there must be detectable levels of antibodies in your blood sample for the test to be able to accurately detect infection. You can test during the 12-week window period; however, a negative result may not be accurate until 12 weeks. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 4 weeks you should go to see your local healthcare professional who may be able to send a sample of your blood for a laboratory test.

    You should wait at least 12 weeks after finishing your course of PrEP before you test for HIV. This is due to the delay in antibody production caused by the PrEP treatment.

    The treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or treatment (ART) and involves taking a combination of antiretroviral drugs every day. Treatment cannot cure HIV but someone living with HIV who is on treatment can live a relatively normal and healthy life.

    The BioSURE HIV Self Test detects antibodies to HIV, to the actual virus itself, however people who have been on ARTs for a long time can have a relatively low level of antibodies. We do not have the data to support the use of our test with people on ART and therefore you should not use our test as you may get an incorrect result.

    When someone is exposed to HIV, their immune system will begin to produce antibodies in response to the virus. Antibodies are specific to the virus and cannot interfere with the results of another antibody test i.e., a COVID-19 Antibody test. Everyone produces antibodies at different rates, hence the window period.

    Yes, although a negative result years after exposure is not necessarily more accurate than a negative result at 12 weeks, antibodies remain present in the blood and the ability of the test to be able to detect infection increases as the amount/level of antibodies does.

    It is placed in the top end of the device. You will need to pull it out of the end and place in the round hole in the plastic tray.

    It needs to be foil side up to fit in the hole.

    You may have already clicked the lancet by mistake, it will only work once. Phone 0845 222 0012, WhatsApp 07763 489170 or email info@biosure.co.uk.

    Not really, it's a very fine gauge needle because you only need a tiny drop of blood. Top tip - it is best to use the sides of the tip of your finger as there are less nerve endings there.

    No, the blood will be the same from whichever finger you get it from. We recommend using the sides of your fingertips to prevent bruising.

    The patented design of the BioSURE HIV Self Test device means the blood sample is taken into the tip automatically by capillary action.

    Make sure the device tip is fully pushed into the buffer bottle right the way to the bottom. The test can only run when the tip is fully inserted. Push the device down firmly until it will go no further.

    Because the buffer and sample solution have to run up the test strip contained within the device. The test may not run properly if it is laying down, but if the top (control line) doesn't appear you'll know it hasn't worked.

    It shouldn't affect your test or result but stand it up as soon as possible.

    You get your own results in just 15 minutes. There are instructions and guides provided to allow you to read and interpret your own result.

    Leave the buffer pot on your test device, it will then fit snugly into the cut-out shape in the box.

    Make sure the blue wording is facing towards you when you place the test device into the cut-out shape in the box.

    You may see a faint red mark at the very bottom of the test strip – this is simply your blood sample. It is nothing to worry about – it is not a line.

    All BioSURE HIV Self Test devices have an inbuilt sample control line which essentially means that if there are no lines on your test and you have definitely pushed the tip right down to the bottom, then something hasn't worked properly, and you will need to test again with a new device.

    There should be a sealable, opaque polythene bag included with your test. Simply place all the components back into the box, place this into the bag and seal. You can throw the bag away discreetly with your usual rubbish.

    There is nothing harmful in the test that can cause infection or injury to the user and others, including pets.

    The expiration date of the test can be found on the bottom of the white tray or on the back of the white sleeve. The batch code can also be found here.

    You should not read your result outside of the read time as your result may not be stable and may appear differently. This is simply due to the nature of the test and the lateral flow mechanism. The result visible at the 15 minutes is reliable. You should dispose of your test as usual.

    HIV is now a treatable condition and there is a global plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 called the 90-90-90 goals. The first step is making sure people know their status and this means giving everyone more choice in how to test. Since we launched the world's first approved HIV self-test to use blood, we have helped generate data to prove people do want to test themselves for HIV, they can self-refer into treatment and there are no detrimental social harms. In 2014, the UK was only the 2nd country to change their law prohibiting self-testing - there are now over 60 countries where self-testing is now legal or being made legal. We have a very real role to play in creating the world's first AIDS free generation and we couldn't have done it without you.   

    Home HIV self-sampling kits are a postal service where you use the kit to take your own sample of blood and then post it off to a laboratory for analysis. You get your result days later via either phone or text (depending on your result). HIV Self Testing kits require a much smaller blood sample and give you your result while you wait, without anyone else being involved.

    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it weaker. Eventually the immune system can become not strong enough to fight infections and diseases.

    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it weaker. Eventually the immune system can become not strong enough to fight infections and diseases.

    AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is a group of symptoms that can eventually result from HIV infection if it is left untreated.

    No.. If someone has HIV, this means they have the HIV virus in their body. When their immune system becomes so weak it can’t fight off a range of illnesses, they are then considered to have developed AIDS. People who are HIV positive do not automatically go on to develop AIDS, in fact it is very unlikely to develop if treatment is taken regularly and is started early enough after infection. Because the way we think about HIV is changing, the term late-stage HIV is increasingly being used instead of AIDS.

    The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom. The Health Protection Agency report that 95% of those diagnosed with HIV in the UK acquired HIV through sexual contact.

    HIV is transmitted when infected body fluids get into another person’s bloodstream. These body fluids include:

    • Blood (including menstrual blood).
    • ‘Pre-cum’ (the clear liquid that comes from a man’s penis when he is sexually excited).
    • Vaginal fluid.
    • Anal mucus (the lining inside of the anus and rectum).
    • Breast milk.
    • Body fluids such as tears, sweat, saliva and urine do not contain enough virus to cause infection. HIV cannot be transmitted by hugging, sharing drinks, or even kissing. The HIV virus also cannot be transmitted through the air.
    • Virtually all HIV infections are transmitted through unprotected penetrative sex. Sexually transmitted infections in either partner can greatly increase the degree of risk. The most common ways the virus can get into your bloodstream are:
    • through the thin lining inside your anus.
    • through the cells lining the vagina.
    • via cuts or sores in your skin.
    • by injecting, i.e. illicit drug use (with a contaminated needle).
    • Other ways of contracting HIV include:
    • through damaged penile tissue and the mucous membranes in the urethra and on the head of the penis – particularly underneath the foreskin
    • transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding
    • through oral sex or sharing sex toys (although this risk is significantly lower than for anal and vaginal sex).

    - Antiretroviral treatments (ART's) are now so good, that if they are taken correctly the virus can be supressed to undetectable levels. The virus is still there but there literally isn't enough to find in the person's blood. The incredible result of this is that not only is the person's health protected, but it is scientifically proven that they cannot pass the virus on. The U=U campaign (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) has now been endorsed by more that 350 HIV organisations across 34 countries.

    You can reduce your risk of exposure to HIV by not having unprotected sex with someone who is unsure of their HIV status. In fact, you are far safer to have unprotected sex with someone who has a maintained undetectable viral load than you are to have protected sex with someone who doesn't know their status.

    Condoms are proven to prevent HIV transmission. Be confident in your choices and relationships, have a look at the Stay Negative 

    Condoms have a very low failure rate (they only usually fail if they don't fit properly, so it is worth trying a few different widths and lengths to find the right size) and can be used for all types of sex; vaginal, anal, and oral. When correctly used every time you have sex, condoms are the best way to prevent HIV and also other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

    It's important to always check the expiry date of your condom (they go out of date!) and only use condoms that have a CE mark. 

    The basics to make sure you’re using a condom properly: 

    • use a new condom each time you have sex.
    • put the condom on as soon as an erection occurs and before any sexual contact (whether vaginal, anal, or oral).
    • don't use oil-based lubricants, (no Vaseline or baby oil!) because they can weaken the material and increase the chances of splitting. Use water-based lubricants instead.
    • the man should hold the condom firmly to keep it from slipping off and withdraw from his partner immediately after ejaculating.
    • There are also female condoms which are made of thin plastic and have a flexible ring at either end which are inserted into the vagina before sex. These also prevent pregnancy and protect against HIV and other STIs.

    PrEP is a drug that can be taken by HIV negative men or women before sex and reduces the risk of getting HIV, a similar concept to the contraceptive pill stopping pregnancy in women. PrEP is still not available on the NHS in England but can be bought from some online pharmacies. There is a lot more information here.   

    If you may have been at risk of exposure to HIV then it is always better to know and find out your HIV status. Knowledge is power. If you have HIV then the earlier you are diagnosed the better because antiretrovirals are now so effective that with correct, regular treatment someone living with HIV can expect to live a long healthy life and have a normal life expectancy. But if you don't know, you can't treat.

    Self-testing offers you a greater level of convenience and discretion than other methods of testing as you can test when and where you want to. It is the only way to be the first person to know your status. It puts you in control.

    It is your choice where and how you will be most comfortable having a test. If you feel anxious about self-testing and getting your own result, you could speak with a friend or professional before buying one or consider having somebody with you while you perform the test. HIV testing is available in a range of professional healthcare settings, including free testing in NHS Sexual Health (GUM) Clinics where counselling is also available

    Blood contains 300 times more antibodies than oral fluid. That is why an HIV test that uses blood is so accurate. For the BioSURE HIV Self Test, the blood sample size is extremely small, 2.5 microlitres, so far less than a drop of blood and the lancet only makes a very small cut in your finger.

    This really depends on the lifestyle choices you make. If you know you make choices that put you at risk, including having unprotected sex with a person or people who do not know their HIV status, it is recommended that you test regularly. National guidelines recommend repeat testing every 3 months. You can make life easy and we'll remember for you, click here for subscription orders and get discounted prices.