What does a HIV reactive result mean?

A reactive result is NOT a positive result. To diagnose HIV you need to do 3 different types of test. In a blood sample taken by a clinician from your vein there is enough blood to do all 3 tests and give a positive result. In a finger prick blood sample done by an online service there is only enough blood to do the first test.

This first test is very sensitive indeed. It picks up almost all HIV infections but it may also cross-react with other things in your blood.

If you have a reactive result then we will discuss this with you and organise for you to have a second blood sample taken in clinic so that the confirmatory tests can be done.

In many cases the initial result is not confirmed and the final result will be negative.

Helen Burkitt, Senior Sexual Health Nurse at SH:24
Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse

Last updated at: 08 March 2022