What do my HIV test results mean?
If you’ve just done your HIV test, you may be wondering what a ‘reactive’ or ‘negative’ test result means. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and advice about what to do next.
There are two lines on my test, what does that mean?
Two complete lines, one next to the ‘C‘ and one next to the ‘T’ means your test result is reactive. This shows that the test has reacted to something which may be antibodies to HIV. The self-testing kit you have used is very accurate but cannot be used on its own to give an HIV diagnosis. A reactive rapid test result must always be confirmed with an extra laboratory test before a final HIV positive result can be given. It’s important to contact us as soon as possible so we can arrange to do a follow up test.
How do I get seen quickly?
You can speak to an experienced Health Adviser on 01273 523388 (option 2) and we will book you a same-day or next day appointment (depending on the time of day) at SHAC East
Health Advisor phone line opening times:
Monday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm
Tuesday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm
Wednesday 12.30pm to 4.30pm
Thursday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm
Friday 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm
Alternatively, you can attend one of our on-the-day appointments at SHAC Central. These run on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (10:15am-1pm and 2pm-5pm). On Saturdays we run a limited on-the-day appointment serviceat SHAC East (10am-1pm).
What if I don’t live in Brighton and Hove?
If you are staying in Brighton and Hove when you do your self-test you can still come to our clinic for a follow up test. You may want to wait until you return home and visit your local sexual health clinic. To arrange an appointment with them tell them you’ve had a reactive result on an OraQuick HIV self-test.
What will happen when I come to the clinic?
When we’ve booked your appointment and you come to the clinic, reception will be expecting you. You will meet one of our Health Advisers who will answer your immediate questions. All the information you give is confidential. If you attend an on-the-day appointment at SHAC Central tell the staff who greet you that you’ve had a reactive result on an OraQuick HIV self-test. At your appointment you will need to give a blood sample, which will be sent to the lab for testing. We can usually get this result very quickly. A positive HIV diagnosis isn’t given until after we have received the result of this extra test. At this stage, it’s very important to follow the advice of the healthcare professional.
What else should I do?
While awaiting results of confirmatory testing it is important to avoid the possibility of transmitting any infection to others through sexual contact. If you’ve had unprotected sex in the 72hrs before getting a reactive HIV test result your partner may be able to take PEP.
What happens if my follow up test is positive for HIV?
The first thing to do is arrange your follow up test, remember that a reactive result on your self-test kit is not a diagnosis of HIV. Modern treatment for HIV is free, easy to take and has few side effects. Our dedicated team are here to offer support and answer all your questions.
How accurate is the reactive HIV test result?
The OraQuick HIV self-test kit you have used is over 99.7% accurate. Occasionally a reactive rapid-test test result can be a false ‘positive’ (out of 1,000 reactive results, 3 will be falsely positive). That’s why it’s essential you attend a health-care setting for a confirmatory test.
How accurate is my negative HIV test result?
A negative result is reassuring, but remember, if you’ve had any recent risk of HIV exposure it may not be detected by this test.
The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the ‘window period’. The window period for this test is three months. To be sure of a negative test result you need to have had no risk of HIV exposure during the window period (in the last three months).
We recommend testing every three months if you have on-going risk of acquiring HIV. We’d also recommend thinking about HIV prevention options such as PrEP.