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What does a reactive result mean for HIV TEST?

Point of care testing, home sampling and home testing kits are screening tests which check for HIV antibodies in your blood. They will show either a negative result, or a ‘reactive’ result. A reactive result means that you may have the infection. As with any HIV test, whether completed in a clinic or at home, you’ll need to have additional confirmatory testing with a blood test at a clinic to confirm a true positive result. Clinicians supporting your testing will talk you through the next steps if you do receive a reactive result.

The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test, as symptoms of HIV may not appear for many years. Anyone who thinks they could have HIV should get tested. HIV can take a number of weeks to show up in a test from the time of infection.

This is known as a ‘window period’. If you are not sure when you might have been exposed to the infection, you should do a test now, and another test at a later date. Clinicians can help advise you about this when you request a test with them.

HIV testing is provided to anyone free of charge on the NHS. Many clinics can give you the result on the same day. Home testing and home sampling kits are also available. There are four types of HIV test; a blood test taken in a clinic, a point of care test, a home sampling kit, and a home testing kit.

HIV Home Test Kits
Dr Gillian Holdsworth headshot

This post was clinically reviewed by:
Dr Gillian Holdsworth Fettle's Managing Director, Medical Doctor and public health expert.

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