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Self-sampling

Some charities, sexual health clinics and private companies offer self-sampling services for HIV testing (for example, Terrence Higgins Trust, 56 Dean Street and Dr Thom). These generally involve the end-user ordering a self-sampling kit from the organisation’s website, collecting their own blood or oral fluid sample at home, posting it back for laboratory analysis, and receiving the results by phone or text a few days later. Self-sampling is different from self-testing, discussed later in this briefing.

In most cases, the HIV testing technology used in self-sampling services is an antibody/antigen laboratory test, testing a tiny tube of blood (drawn from a fingerprick). In these cases, the accuracy should therefore be broadly comparable to those tests described above.

However, the window period may be extended, depending on the type of sample used. When the sample is oral fluid (moisture from the gums), the window period is thought to be three months. For a dried blood spot (a drop of blood from the finger dried onto filter paper), the window period may be a few weeks longer than for laboratory tests using venous blood.

HIV testing technologies

Published December 2014

Last reviewed December 2014

Next review December 2017

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.