Lines are open Mon-Fri 08:00 - 18:00
Yesterday, the first of December, was World AIDS Day, an annual event that has been running since 1998. The aim of the day is to support those who are currently living with HIV, remember those who have died and to raise awareness of the virus, which has claimed the lives of an estimated 25 million people over the last 30 years. A continual focus when it comes to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS is the importance of getting tested.
There is no doubting the importance of STI testing. Though in this case the focus tended to be solely on HIV, any sexually transmitted disease can cause serious health complications if it is not treated. Crucially, many STIs - in fact, the majority - are asymptomatic. This means that an infected individual will be entirely unaware that they have been infected unless they take an STI test. Complications that can be brought on by STIs include pelvic inflammatory disease in women, epididymitis in men and infertility in both sexes.
The good news is that you can now seek STI testing online for many STIs, like here at LabsDirect. The process is extremely simple, quick and private. All you have to do is order an STI home test kit online, which will include a specimen tube and transport cup. When it arrives, you simply supply your sample in the tube provided and then send it to our lab, where it will be tested. Your results are then made available to you in a private member’s area. Online testing can diagnose chlamydia, gonorrhoea, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas vaginalis, mycoplasma genitalium, ureaplasma urealyticum and genital herpes.
Sounds simple? It is. So simple, in fact, that you may be wondering if it is possible to take an online STI test for HIV. You may search online and find that some online clinics or pharmacies do in fact offer a form of online HIV test. However, you should exercise caution if you are considering taking an online HIV test, because there are additional factors to consider when testing for this virus.
Is the test legal?
Firstly, you should be aware that any test that claims to provide you with immediate results in the home is not complying with UK legislation and is therefore not legal in this country. In order to comply with this legislation, an online HIV test must involve sending a sample (usually saliva) to a registered laboratory which will process and analyse the sample. Do not be fooled by any test that claims to be a “home HIV test” and doesn’t involve a laboratory.
What will the test tell you?
It is important to understand that no HIV test done outside of a clinical setting will provide you with a diagnostic result. Even those online HIV tests which are legal and fully comply with all relevant legislation can only provide either a reactive or negative result. A negative result means that no sign of HIV has been found in the sample. A reactive result simply means that it is not possible to rule out HIV from the sample provided. It is not the same as a positive result. If you take a test and receive a reactive result, you must then visit a doctor to receive a blood test for HIV, as they will be able to make a diagnosis.
Is there support available?
One of the biggest problems with online HIV tests is that they do not provide you with the same kind of support as when you undergo HIV testing in a clinic. Before you take an STI test at a clinic you receive a consultation and then, if you receive a positive result, you will receive comprehensive support and counselling to help you to come to terms with the diagnosis. This is an extremely important part of HIV testing, and if you take an online HIV test you risk missing out on this crucial stage. You should not assume that you will be able to cope with the result of an HIV test without support.
At LabsDirect, we do not offer an online HIV test as we do not feel there is a test available at this time that adequately addresses the concerns listed above. If you feel you may possibly have been at risk for HIV then we strongly advise that you visit your doctor for an HIV test. It is possible to treat and manage HIV, but the only way to do this is to receive the proper treatment and you cannot do this if you do not have a proper diagnosis.
If you have had unprotected sex, there is also a chance that you may have contracted another sexually transmitted infection. We recommend that you take an STI test if you have had unprotected sex.