HIV Self-Testing (Home Testing)

HIV Self-Testing (Home Testing)

Can I get an HIV test to use at home or in a private location?

HIV Self-Tests

Yes. These are known as HIV self-tests. There are two kinds:

  • A Rapid Self-Test is done entirely at home or in a private location and can produce results within 20 minutes. You can buy a rapid self-test kit at a pharmacy or onlineexternal icon. The only rapid self-test currently available in the US is an oral fluid test.
  • A Mail-In Self-Test includes a specimen collection kit that contains supplies to collect dried blood from a fingerstick at home. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing and the results are provided by a health care provider. Mail-in self-tests can be ordered through various online merchant sites. Your health care provider can also order a mail-in self-test for you.

Check to see if the health department or other organization near you is providing a rapid self-test for a reduced cost or for free. Directly purchased self-tests may not be covered by private health insurance or Medicaid. Be sure to check with your insurance provider and your health care provider about reimbursement for tests that are self-purchased.

Note: State laws regarding self-testing vary and may limit availability. Check with your health care provider for additional testing options.

What should I expect when I use a rapid HIV self-test (also known as a home test)?

There is currently one FDA-approved rapid self-testexternal icon (OraQuick). For this test, you must swab your gums to collect an oral fluid sample and use the materials in the kit to test your oral fluid sample. You will be able to get a result within 20 minutes. It is important to follow the directions as described in the instructions or the test will not work. There is a phone number included with the HIV self-test for anyone to call to get help with conducting the test.

You should always interpret the rapid self-test according to the test manufacturer’s instructionsexternal icon.

  • If the test result is negative, and you haven’t had a possible exposure during the previous 3 months, you can be confident you don’t have HIV.
  • If your test result is positive, go to a health care provider for follow-up testing.

Some people have difficulty in conducting a rapid self-test and the test does not perform as it should. If a rapid HIV self-test is invalid as described in the instructions, then the test has not worked. In this case, you will need to use another rapid self-test, a mail-in self-test, or seek testing at a health care provider or testing center.

What should I expect when I use a mail-in HIV self-test?

There are many mail-in self-testing services available through online merchants. The kit you receive provides the tools you will need to safely prick your finger and collect a very small sample of blood on a card. The sample is then mailed to a laboratory for testing. When the testing is completed a health care provider will contact you with the results.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure you collect a good sample.

  • If the test result is negative, and you haven’t had a possible exposure during the previous 3 months, you can be confident you don’t have HIV.
  • If your test result is positive, go to a health care provider for follow-up testing.

Directly purchased self-tests (purchased online) may not be covered by private health insurance or Medicaid. Check with your insurance provider and your health care provider about reimbursement for mail-in self-tests that are self-purchased. Some mail-in self-test providers can bill your insurance for you.

Note: State laws regarding self-testing vary and may limit availability. Check with your health care provider for additional testing options.

Find Self-Testing Services In Your Area

Select your state to find out where you can get a self-test (home test) for free or at a reduced cost.

Arizona
California
Florida
Maine
Maryland
Montana
New York
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Tennessee
Utah
Virginia