Why should I get an HIV test?

It’s estimated that there are 107,800 people living with HIV in the UK and many don't know that they’re infected.

The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. The virus often has no symptoms and the longer it is left untreated, the more damage it can do to your immune system and to your health.

Which areas offer free postal HIV tests?

The free test kits are available in areas of England that choose to fund the service. More areas are choosing to offer the service and are listed on the service availability page.

During some periods of national promotion, Public Health England fund the service across England.

We have a page where you can see a list of participating areas.

Who can use Test.hiv?

Free postal tests are usually only available to gay and bisexual men and African people. This is because these communities are identified as being most at risk of HIV.

What if my results come back positive?

If your results indicate you may have an HIV infection, you will be contacted by a member of staff from Yorkshire MESMAC who will talk you through what will happen next. With your consent they will arrange for you to have further confirmatory tests and treatment at your nearest clinic.

They will also be able to help you access local emotional and practical support services if you want them to.

What if I can't collect enough blood?

If you were unable to collect a large enough sample of blood on your first attempt, there are two spare lancets included in the test kit, so you can try another finger to top it up.

If you don't do this right away, re-cap and invert your sample slowly 10 times as this prolongs it stability. It's important your blood sample reach us as soon as possible after it's collected - if you leave it for a few days we may be unable to test it.

You can also run your hand under warm water before trying to take your sample, and once you've used the lancet gently massage the side of your finger to produce drops of blood.

If you're not able to collect enough blood, please login to your online record and we can send a replacement kit for you to try again.

What if I've used all the lancets provided?

We are unable to test samples that are below the 400 line on the tube. If you've used up all your lancets without being able to collect a large enough sample to be tested, we can send a replacement kit for you to try again - simply login to your online record.

What about my privacy?

At Preventx we've got plenty of experience handling confidential information – we've been operating postal sexual health testing for 8 years. We work to ensure your privacy takes priority and that your data is looked after with utmost care.

We have put measures in place that make sure any personal information you give us is kept securely and is only accessible to those who need it to do their job.

Our partners Yorkshire MESMAC have access to your record, should you need to contact them regarding your result. They are a charity who specialise in HIV testing and take your privacy very seriously.

I think I may have been exposed to HIV, what should I do?

If you think you've put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and get tested as soon as possible. The sooner HIV is diagnosed, the earlier you will be able to start treatment and avoid becoming ill.

Emergency anti-HIV medication called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is available and may stop you becoming infected, however the treatment must be started within 72 hours of potential exposure to the virus. You should be able to get PEP from sexual health clinics and hospitals - usually from accident and emergency departments.

The window period (the time it takes after infection for tests to pick it up) depends on the type of test. For most HIV tests that require a blood sample it is possible to get reliable results from four weeks after possible infection. If you take a test before this, your result may not be accurate.

To find local HIV services, please visit the National Aids Map e-atlas.

How accurate are the tests, and what is the window period?

The HIV test may not detect an infection that was contracted very recently.

The test highly accurate after 4 weeks, and almost 100% accurate after 8 weeks.

If you have had unprotected sex in the last 6-8 weeks, we recommend you test immediately and also complete a new test kit in 6 weeks to be sure of your status.

I want to check my results, but I've lost my 'Access Key'.

That's not a problem - you should be able to get a text message reminder from our Forgotten Tracking Details page.

If that doesn't work, drop us an email with your full name and date of birth and we will get back to you as soon as possible with your access key. You will then be able to view your results online.

I ordered a test, but it's not arrived.

We dispatch most test kits within 24 hours by Royal Mail 1st Class post, so your test kit should arrive within a day or two - however, Royal Mail aren't always as reliable as they'd like us to think!If your test has not arrived within a week or so, it may have been lost in the post (out of the 1000s of tests we deal with, this does happen now and again).

If it's been 7 days since you ordered and your kit has not arrived, use the forgotten details page to access your online record and request a replacement kit. Please check your address is correct - if it's not or you're unable to access your records, drop us an email.

I returned my test, but I've not heard anything.

Our lab is quick to complete diagnostic testing and results are usually issued within 2-3 days of receipt of sample.If you've not heard anything within a week or so since posting, it's possible your sample has been delayed or even lost in the post (of the 1000s of tests we deal with, this does happen occasionally).

If it's been 7 days since you posted your kit, and the tracking page isn't showing your results - you can login to your online record and request a replacement kit.