What is HIV and STI self-testing?

Home testing is a way for you to test for HIV and STIs from the comfort of your own home. Most are self-sampling, which you return the products and get your results within a couple of days. Others offer 15 mins results. 

It is recommended that all gay and bisexual men who have sex with men test for HIV and STIs at least once a year. If you have unprotected sex with new partners then you should test more frequently than this.

There's many public and private companies who provide home HIV and STI testing services but here are the ones we are recommending. 

PHE | FREE HIV TESTING (England): You can order a free self-testing kit from Public Health England HERE

SH London | FREE HIV AND STI testing (London only): mehimus.shl.uk

SH:24 | FREE HIV AND STI TESTING (Based on location): SH:24

HIV Self Test Scotland | FREE HIV TESTING (Scotland): Order a free home HIV test if you live in Scotland: Order Here
THT | LOW COST HIV TESTING (UK): Order a HIV test from Terrence Higgins Trust and read the results yourself in 15 minutes: Order here.

Why is self-testing different from testing at a clinic?

  • You can take the test in your own time and in the privacy of your own home
  • It's sometimes more convenient than visiting a sexual health clinic, especially if you want to test for HIV on a very regular basis (every couple of months)
  • HIV self-testing may not be right for you if you want to talk to someone or feel worried about how you would cope if you got a positive result
  • HIV tests in clinics are more reliable in shorter window periods (within three months of possibly being exposed to HIV)
  • If you're self-testing, an annual HIV test in a clinic is also a good idea, especially to have a full sexual health screening.  

What happens when I get the result?

If you are using with PHE or Sexual Health London then you will receive a text message / email with information about your results. If there's any issues they will call you. 

If you are using instant result tests for HIV, it's likely you will get your result within 15 mins. If it comes back positive you will need to arrange an appointment with a sexual health clinic. This information will be provided. 

Can I buy other HIV self-test kits in the UK?

Self-testing kits became legal in the UK from 6 April 2014. Regulated kits are now available for sale but it is important to check the CE mark before buying it, as this ensures it has gone through safety processes. Many pharmacies such as Boots and Superdrug offer tests you can buy over the counter. You can also buy instant tests online.