Home HIV test

A home HIV test (also known as self test) is an HIV test that anyone can carry out themselves. The home testing kits sold in Switzerland are easy to use and deliver a reliable result.

There are two points to remember when using a home HIV test:

  1. If the test shows a positive result, it is essential to have it confirmed by a further test at a testing centre or doctor's surgery.
  2. A home HIV test can only reliably detect an HIV infection if it occurred at least three months before the test. Anyone wishing to check their status after possible exposure within the past three months should go to a testing centre or a doctor.

Which home HIV test should I use?

It is essential that the testing kit bears the European CE quality mark. To earn it, the manufacturer must prove that the test is reliable and easy to use.

Where can I buy a home HIV test?

Home tests bearing the CE mark are available from pharmacies and drugstores.

They can also be bought on the internet, but be careful here, because providers may also supply tests which are not CE-certified. There are also fake tests in circulation. The Swiss AIDS Federation therefore recommends buying the test at a pharmacy or drugstore.

How does a home HIV test work?

All CE-certified home HIV tests are blood tests. You prick your finger with a very fine needle and take a drop of blood that is then analysed in the container that is supplied.

Various tests are available, and they are all very easy to use.

Does pricking your finger hurt?

Not really – very little at most. All of the instructions show where you should take the blood from, i.e. the side of the finger. The skin there has fewer nerve endings, so you feel it less.

What does a home HIV test actually test?

All home HIV tests look for antibodies. These are proteins that the body forms when it is infected with HIV. In other words, the test does not react to HIV directly, but to the body's response to HIV. Since it takes time for the immune system to respond following infection, a home test can only safely rule out HIV if it is done at the earliest three months after possible infection.

What doesn’t it test?

The home HIV test can only detect infection with HIV. It tells you nothing about other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or syphilis.

How reliable is the result?

You can rely on the result from a test carrying the CE mark.

If the test result is positive, go immediately to an advice centre.

Would I know if anything had gone wrong?

Yes. Like a home pregnancy test, all tests have a control line which shows whether or not a sample is valid.

What does a negative test result mean?

A negative test result means that you are not infected with HIV. Please note, however, that if you have become infected over the previous three months it may be too soon for the test to detect HIV in your blood.

What does a positive test result mean?

In this case you should seek medical attention as soon as you can. It will be paid for by your health insurance. HIV cannot be cured, but can be treated with drugs in such a way that you will remain healthy and have a similar life expectancy as those who do not have HIV.

How do I dispose of a home HIV test?

You can dispose of a home test with your regular household rubbish. Simply put everything back in the packaging, and throw it in the bin.