Self Testing

SELF-TESTING

HIV self-tests are a great way to learn your HIV status on your own time and in your own space.

Talk to your friends and partners about knowing your status. For tips on how to start those conversations, check out our HIV Testing Essentials page.

You can also check out our Let’s Stop HIV Together Testing videos if you need more information about HIV testing and how to talk about it.

No matter your test results, know you are not alone. There are many organizations out there that want to support you in your HIV journey. Use the prevention services locator to find places where you can find support and prevention services after your test.

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 online. 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.

icon of a person taking an HIV test

A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have HIV. That’s because of the window period — the time between HIV exposure and when a test can detect HIV in your body.

  • If you get an HIV test after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again after the window period for the test you took.
  • If you test again after the window period, have no possible HIV exposure during that time, and the result is negative, you do not have HIV.

If you’re sexually active or use needles to inject drugs, continue to take actions to prevent HIV, like taking medicines to prevent HIV.

If you have certain risk factors, you should continue getting tested at least once a year.

If you use any type of antibody test and have a positive result, you will need a follow-up test to confirm your results.

  • If you test in a community program or take an HIV self-test and it’s positive, you should go to a health care provider for follow-up testing.
  • If you test in a health care setting or a lab and it’s positive, the lab will conduct the follow-up testing, usually on the same blood sample as the first test.

If the follow-up test is also positive, it means you have HIV.

Testing Essentials