An HIV antigen (also known as the p24 antigen) is a protein the virus introduces into the immune system of the infected person, triggering it to start making antibodies.
This structural protein makes up most of the HIV viral core, or 'capsid,' and its present in high levels in the blood serum of recently infected individuals during the short period between infection and seroconversion.
Certain tests (4th generation antigen/antibody tests done in laboratories) can screen for HIV antigens and detect primary infection much more reliably than only tests that screen for antibodies.
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For people who engage in high-risk activities (such as unprotected sex, or injecting drugs), regular HIV testing is recommended at least once a year and, ideally, every 3 to 6 months in particularly high-risk cases.
For most people who are at low risk of contracting HIV, regular testing is not required, but is recommended before sleeping with a new sexual partner.
It’s important to understand that no HIV test can accurately detect HIV immediately after exposure.
This is because the body takes a while until it starts producing enough anti-HIV antibodies (which the tests typically screen for) after the moment of the infection. This timeframe is known as the “window” period, and reliable results are not possible during it.
The “window” period varies from person to person and can last anywhere from 10 days to 3 months. Its duration depends on the body’s immune response.
During the “window” period, a person may test HIV-negative even if they are infected; they can also transmit the virus to others.
Certain types of tests are able to get accurate results sooner than others:
If using a sophisticated testing process called Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT), lab tests can detect infection as early as 10 to 33 days after exposure.
Antigen/antibody tests performed on blood from a vein can usually detect HIV infection 18 to 45 days after an exposure.
However, note that laboratory analysis of HIV tests typically requires several days to process.
Antigen/antibody tests done with blood from a finger prick can take anywhere from 18 to 90 days after exposure to detect HIV, and the most commonly available antibody tests can take 23 to 90 days to detect HIV infection. For reliable results, at-home testing is recommended only after 90 days since exposure.
At-home tests are typically rapid, taking only 15-30 minutes to return results.
NOTE: Transmission may be more likely during the window period because there are higher levels of the virus in the infected person’s body. For this reason, anyone suspecting of having contracted HIV is advised to abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse until at least one test provides a negative result after a minimum of 3 months.
If transmission is suspected within 72 hours (ideally within 24 hours) after risky sexual intercourse, a combination of HIV drugs known as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) may be taken to attempt to prevent the virus from taking hold. The person suspecting infection must visit their physician as soon as possible during this timeframe to begin PEP therapy.
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The fastest and easiest way to test for HIV is to order an at-home HIV test kit, which analyzes your saliva or blood sample for the presence of HIV antibodies.
Both saliva and blood testing kits are extremely fast, discreet, and inexpensive, allowing you to comfortably learn your HIV status from the privacy of your own home.
Unlike clinical tests, which can take days to schedule and/or receive results from, our at-home rapid HIV test kits will give you results as reliable as clinical tests in just 15 minutes.
Order a test today and receive it in under 24h for most European countries. Shipping is secure and discreet.
With an at-home rapid antibody test, like the HIV Saliva Test, it takes less than 5 minutes to perform the test and you will have your results in about 15 minutes.
If you go to a doctor’s office or clinic you will generally spend between 30 minutes and 3 hours at the clinic and will usually not get your results the same day. For NAT and blood draw antibody/antigen tests that need to go to a lab it will generally take several days for you to get your results.
HIV tests are normally done very quickly, however, a visit to an HIV testing center or clinic itself typically takes much more time than performing an at-home test.
In a clinic, the most commonly taken sample is blood drawn from the vein, as it provides the most reliable results as early as possible after a potential infection.
If the sample is sent to a laboratory for a NAT analysis, a few days are typically needed to process it. If the clinic performs a rapid test, however, the HIV test results are normally ready after 30min. These can sometimes be sent to you via email, but some clinics will ask you to come back later that day or the next day.
We also must take into account the time needed to go to the clinic, wait for your sample to be collected there, the time it takes for the clinic to actually send the results, and the time it takes from when you want to get tested until an appointment is available (provided it’s not a walk-in clinic).
All things considered, a clinical HIV test can turn out to be a multi-day project that, depending on how far the nearest testing institution is from you and how much it costs, can pose more or less of a practical and financial inconvenience to carry out.
On the other hand, at-home tests can be done in the privacy and convenience of your own home, with a finger-prick blood sample or a saliva swab.
The preparation and sample collection take no more than 5min, and your HIV status becomes available in around 15min. The results themselves are as reliable as in clinical tests, especially if more than 3 months have passed since suspected exposure.
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The speed of getting an HIV test result depends on whether the test is a rapid test or it requires laboratory analysis:
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HIV test accuracy encompasses two aspects: test sensitivity and test specificity.
Generally speaking, all HIV tests are near 100% in specificity, meaning that the chances of getting a positive result when an HIV infection is not present are extremely low.
As for sensitivity, laboratory tests and rapid tests done in clinics are typically extremely reliable, with about 99.3% accuracy.
In general, these days, at-home rapid HIV tests are considered as reliable as clinical tests, as long as the test is performed after the incubation time window (3 months).
The at-home tests in our Webshop have undergone extensive performance reviews, showing their relative sensitivity to be between 99.5-99.8% and relative specificity at 99.8-100%.
Order one of our highly accurate at-home tests now and know your status tomorrow with secure and discreet delivery to most European countries in under 24h.
After taking your at-home HIV test, your results will be ready in about 15 minutes. You can read your results in the control area of your testing cassette. Your results should be read as follows:
Our at-home HIV test kits provide highly reliable results, and we offer replacements for defective units at no charge. Discreet delivery in under 24h available for most European countries.
A false positive HIV test result is extremely unlikely (around 0.01-0.02%) — significantly more so than a false negative. When it does occur, it’s typically caused by:
To ensure that false-positive results are not an issue, all HIV positive results need to be confirmed with additional tests to confirm the diagnosis.
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An HIV antigen/antibody test (also known as a 4th generation HIV test) looks for HIV antibodies as well as the p24 antigen in the blood.
The p24 is a structural protein that makes up most of the HIV viral core, or 'capsid.' These proteins are present in high levels in the blood serum of recently infected individuals during the short period between infection and seroconversion. They trigger an immune response, which starts the production of antibodies.
Like most other tests, the antigen/antibody test also screens for antibodies. However, as antibody levels take much longer to become high enough for detection, the antigen screening component proves itself significantly more useful in diagnosing primary HIV infection.
While there are some rapid HIV antigen/antibody tests that use blood drawn from a finger, lab-based antigen/antibody tests, which take blood from a vein, will detect the presence of antigens in the blood earlier with more reliability.
Need a rapid at-home HIV antibody test? Order it from our Webshop and receive it within 24h in most European countries.
If you want to take an HIV test, you have two main options. You can either:
You can purchase a rapid HIV self-test kit in our Webshop and receive it discreetly and securely within 24h from placing your order in most European countries.
A positive HIV test means that the test has detected evidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the sample provided.
False positive results are extremely rare, and almost never an error of the test itself. However, a lab-based retest is still required to verify the result.
A positive HIV result is not a death sentence. Nowadays, with early detection and diligent antiretroviral therapy, the viral load can be reduced to undetectable levels and a full, normal life is completely possible.
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A non-reactive, or negative HIV test means that the test has not detected any evidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the sample provided.
If you have carried out the test correctly and followed the instructions carefully, and it has been more than 3 months since your last possible exposure to the HIV virus, you can be confident that you do not have HIV.
False negative results are unlikely, but if the test was performed within the 3-month "window" period and not in a laboratory, or if it was a saliva test, a retest is recommended to confirm the result. This will give you the reassurance that you genuinely are free from HIV.
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An HIV test requires only mental preparation. Waiting for the results for even the 15-30 minutes that most tests require can be grueling if there is any suspicion of infection; even more taxing on the psyche can be the several days that laboratories often require to process the results.
After setting an intention to take the test, it’s advised to practice mindful activities or to indulge in distractions that would keep the mind from wandering into dangerous rumination. Remember that you don’t know until you know, and that it’s always better to know than to not know.
If you are taking an at-home HIV test, we recommend you follow these steps:
Most importantly, keep in mind that, even if your result comes back positive, with modern medications, HIV can be managed even to the point of undetectability, allowing you to live a full, happy, normal life.
Knowledge is power — learn your HIV status reliably with our at-home rapid HIV tests. Delivery takes under 24h for most European countries.
An HIV saliva test uses oral fluid to check for antibodies to HIV, typically both to Type 1 and 2. The at-home test kit allows the user to collect an oral fluid sample by swabbing their upper and lower gums with the test device, and presents a sufficiently reliable alternative to blood tests.
A 2014 study reported that two major FDA-approved brands of oral fluid (saliva) at-home tests have an overall sensitivity (accuracy) of about 87-88% in patients who had an undetectable HIV viral load in their plasma due to antiretroviral therapy.
However, in those with a detectable viral load, these numbers were much stronger — 95-96%. In certain at-home saliva tests, the accuracy can go up to 99,2%.
Generally speaking, saliva HIV test accuracy is the lowest out of the at-home HIV tests, especially if testing before the 3-month mark following suspected exposure. It is recommended to do at least two saliva tests in order to maximize the probability that the result is accurate.
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The HIV saliva test can detect HIV antibodies in saliva only once they develop to sufficient levels, which happens after about 23 days after exposure to the virus.
However, the duration of the window period is highly individual and depends on the immune system of the carrier. The level of antibodies can take up to 90 days after exposure to be reliably detected by an at-home HIV saliva testing kit — this is why it’s recommended to test multiple times during this period and again after the 3-month mark to confirm any results received within that window.
At present, only sophisticated lab tests are sensitive enough to reliably detect HIV antibodies or the viral copies themselves earlier than 3 months after exposure.
However, this is not to say that the carrier is not infectious during this time. In fact, studies suggest that free floating HIV copies and virus-infected lymphocytes can be detected at high levels in saliva, and especially in blood and semen, during the early weeks of HIV infection (referred to as the ‘window’ period before antibodies appear; levels fall rapidly after this point), meaning that early-stage infections, which are the most difficult to detect, could actually be major contributors to the epidemic.
Don’t risk it — get tested. Order an at-home rapid HIV test from our Webshop today and know your status tomorrow with delivery in under 24h available for most European countries.
HIV-1 and HIV-2 are the two major types of the human immunodeficiency virus.
HIV-1 was the first one discovered and is the most widespread type worldwide. It comprises groups M (main), O (outlier), and N (non-M or O).
This virus type is the one we normally think of when we think of HIV. It attacks the body's immune system and destroys CD4 cells, which help the body fight off infections. If it damages the immune system severely, it can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
HIV-2 is more than 55% genetically different from HIV-1. It has two main subtypes, A and B. This strain is thought to have originated in western Africa, where it is significantly more prevalent than anywhere else, and where it mostly remains confined.
Compared to HIV-1, it has a longer asymptomatic stage, lower plasma viral loads, and a lower mortality rate. However, progression to AIDS and death will occur in the majority of individuals without treatment. It’s also resistant to certain drugs used to treat HIV-1, making it that much more important to detect early.
While HIV-2 is still largely present only in individuals of West African origin or their sexual partners, small case numbers have been found in populations of all continents. This is why testing for both variants is more important now than in the past.
Because they are so genetically different, HIV-1 and HIV-2 antigens are distinct enough that for a diagnostic test developed only to detect HIV-1 not to be able to reliably detect HIV-2. For this reason, when looking for a test, you need to make sure it is sensitive to both virus types.
All at-home tests in our Webshop are designed to detect both HIV-1 and HIV-2. Order your test today and receive it within 24h in most European countries.
If you test positive on an at-home HIV test, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to arrange for a lab-based test to confirm your results. Positive results are, unfortunately, extremely rarely false.
If the lab test also returns a positive HIV test result, you have been infected with the virus. At this point, it’s important to know that having HIV is not a death sentence. If you tested yourself in an early stage of the infection, it’s highly likely that diligent treatment may help reduce your viral load to undetectable levels, allowing you to live a full, normal life.
Your healthcare provider should prescribe you antiretroviral therapy (ART) to help manage the infection and, hopefully, prevent it from escalating to AIDS. A blood test should be done every 3-4 months to monitor the viral load.
It’s imperative that you contact everyone that you have had unprotected sex with as far back as you can trace them, and let them know to get tested as well.
While the chances of transmitting it are relatively low, depending on the kind of intercourse you engage in, you will, of course, need to use protection for each following sexual encounter, at least until your viral load becomes undetectable — it’s not guaranteed that this will happen, but ART in early-stage infections can feasibly lead to this result.
If detected early enough, it may take about 6 months for ART to lower your viral load enough to make unprotected sex safe. However, even if you’re HIV-positive, you can still get infected with a different strain of the virus; this is why it’s paramount to protect yourself if you’re not sure of your partner’s status.
Finally, unless your viral load is undetectable, you will need to ensure that your blood never makes contact with anyone else’s open wound or bloodstream (this especially applies to sharing needles).
Other than the above, living with HIV doesn’t necessarily need to be different from living a regular life.
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If you have followed the testing instructions carefully, it is very unlikely that you will receive an invalid HIV test result.
However, if this happens, you should take a second test with a new testing kit. If the second test is also invalid, please contact us, quoting your lot numbers, and we will send you another test at no cost.