What does a reactive result for HIV mean?

A reactive result means that the test has reacted with something in your blood. It could be a sign of HIV infection, but it’s not the same as a positive result.

We follow the World Health Organisation's guidance on HIV testing. This says that HIV can only be diagnosed after completing 3 separate tests. These tests look for 3 different parts of the HIV virus or its antibodies.

With our tests, you’ll only take a small sample of blood. And the laboratory only has enough blood to do the first of the 3 tests. If your blood is taken in a clinic, there'll be enough to do all 3 the tests.

If you have a reactive result on the first test then we'll ask you to go to a sexual health clinic so that they can complete the second and third tests.

If you're worried about a reactive result or are anxious about waiting for another test, contact our clinicians. We can talk you through the process and answer your questions.

Last updated at: 22 February 2024
Published on: 12 August 2022