HIV home testing kits from GMFA and Homerton Hospital
It is recommended that all gay men test for HIV at least once a year. If you have unprotected sex without being certain that your partner is HIV negative then you should test more frequently than this.
We know that getting to a GUM clinic isn’t always convenient so GMFA have partnered with Homerton Hospital to make testing for HIV really easy and quick. You don’t have to take time off work or attend a clinic and you don’t need to give a sample of your blood.
Taking an HIV test at home will be new to most people so we want to make sure you know what is involved before you order a test.
The process is fairly simple
- You do an online risk assessment and order the test
- You get sent an email which you have to respond to (to confirm that you ordered the test) and then we post an HIV test to you the same day. The test fits through a normal letter box so you don’t have to sign for it.
- You take a sample of your saliva and post it to a lab to have it tested.
- You will then receive the result of the test within two working days.
The postage and the test are free to you.
We are using Dr Thom to send out all the tests and they will test your sample when you return it.
What you need to know about the test
- Currently we can only send the test to gay and bisexual men in London.
- The tests are confidential and are sent to you in plain packaging.
- There are many different HIV tests available and they all have a window period and occasionally give a false positive result. With this home sampling test the window period is 14 weeks and 1 in 20 tests will give a false positive result. If you have not taken a risk within the 14 weeks before you take the test you will not get a false negative result.
- If you get a negative test result you will be sent a text informing you of this.
- If you get a positive test result you will get a call from Homerton Hospital. You will be asked to go to a GU service to confirm the test result.
- GMFA does not get the results of the test.
When you receive the HIV test it will look like this.
Don’t be put off - there is more plastic bags, envelopes etc. than test kit.
The test itself looks like this.
All you do is take a sample of your saliva, put it in a container and post it. The test comes with clear instructions.
How the test works
When a person has HIV they will have antibodies to HIV in their saliva. It can take up to 14 weeks after a person is infected with HIV for this to occur. These 14 weeks are known as the window period for this test. You send a sample of your saliva to a lab and they look for the antibodies to HIV in your sample.
If you have put yourself at risk of HIV infection within the window period the test will not necessarily pick up your HIV infection. If your last risk was the only risk you have taken then we would recommend that you wait until 14 weeks have passed since you took a risk, or visit a GU clinic where they have tests that can detect HIV a month after infection. If your last risk was not the only risk you have taken we recommend that you order a test now and then order another 14 weeks after your last risk.
If you would prefer to attend a clinic you can find all the clinics in London here.
What data we need from you
In order for us to send you the test, you will be asked for your postcode, name, address, email and mobile number.
- We use your postcode to verify that you are in London.
- Your name and address is used (unsurprisingly) to post the test to you. If you test negative you will be sent a booklet which can help you stay that way.
- Your email is used: to send you an email that you have to respond to in order to verify that you ordered the test; to inform you that we have sent you a test; to remind you to take an annual HIV test; and to keep you up to date with GMFA.
- Your mobile is used to send you a text when your result comes back negative and for Homerton Hospital to call you if your test is reactive.
An annual reminder
We’re confident that after you see how easy testing by post is, you will feel able to take a test at least once a year. So as part of this process you will be asked if you would like to receive an annual reminder to take an HIV test.
Both GMFA and Dr Thom will hold data on people who order a test. Details of people who get a positive result will be sent to Homerton Hospital in order that they can contact you for a confirmatory test.
Your test results are completely confidential and GMFA does not store data about your test result. Both GMFA and Dr Thom abide by the Data Protection Act and have a duty to look after all confidential information. Homerton University Hospital is part of the NHS. All parts of the NHS must protect the confidentiality of their users. In addition Sexual Health Clinics in the UK are protected by the ‘1974 Venereal Diseases Regulations’. They will not pass on information about you to a third person, including your GP, without your permission.