How your OraQuick HIV Self Test works & the HIV window period explained

The OraQuick HIV Self Tests are designed to provide you with fast and accurate results while testing conveniently at home, or at a place and time or your choosing. The OraQuick HIV Self Test is extremely accurate. It just needs an easy and pain free swab of the gums to determine your status.

How accurate is the OraQuick HIV Self Test? 


The OraQuick HIV Self Test is proven to be extremely effective at diagnosing HIV. Extensive research and advancements in technology have evidenced this kit to be exceptionally usable and tremendously accurate when performed correctly.

The OraQuick HIV Self Test has proven accuracy of >99.7%.

It has a proven clinical sensitivity (if a person has HIV how often the test will be positive) of >99.9%, and a proven clinical specificity (if a person doesn’t have HIV how often will the test be negative) of >99.8%.

If you are at all unsure of your result you must go and see a healthcare professional to perform another test.

So here is how the OraQuick HIV Self Test and the window period work


How the OraQuick HIV Self Test works


When your body detects something harmful (like a bacteria or a virus) your immune system starts to produce antibodies to try and defend your body. Each type of antibody is unique to the harmful thing it is trying to protect you from, and everybody makes them at different rates. 

The OraQuick HIV Self Test uses lateral flow technology very similar to a pregnancy test, but it detects the specific antibodies to HIV (not actual HIV).

Image showing how the OraQuick HIV Self Test is similar to a pregnancy test

How can you trust your result? 


A truly vital part of HIV self-testing is that you have to have a way of knowing  that you have performed your test correctly, so that you can trust your result.

The only way to do this is to have a true Sample Control Line. Your OraQuick HIV Self Test has a special in-built feature that means you have to perform the test correctly for the 'C' the Control Line, to become visible. If you do not perform the test correctly then no lines will appear. 

Most HIV tests do not have this feature and will give you a negative result even if you did not perform the test correctly. You have no way of knowing! 

One of the most common questions we hear is, “have I done my test correctly?” We can confidently say that IF you see the 'C' line on your OraQuick HIV Self Test, then yes you have, because if you do something wrong; maybe don’t add enough oral fluid then NO LINES WILL APPEAR.

What is the HIV Window Period?


The time from when HIV infection occurs to when a test can correctly give a positive result is called the ‘HIV window period’ or ‘HIV test window period’. During this period, someone who has been infected with HIV could still get a negative HIV test result because they may not have produced the antibodies needed to generate a positive result. This does not mean the person testing is negative and has not contracted HIV.

By 4 weeks after contracting the virus about half of people will make antibodies. By 6 weeks this goes up to about 95%, however some people don't make these antibodies until up to 12 weeks after infection.

So after multiple evaluations, we say that you can test from 4 weeks after your exposure, but not to rely on a negative test result until 12 weeks after your most recent possible exposure. A positive test result is always a positive test result regardless of the window period.

A lot of people choose to test regularly and include it as part of their general wellbeing, especially if they have the possibility for more than one exposure. 


What to do if I may have been recently exposed to HIV?


If you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours you can go to your local sexual health clinic who should be able to prescribe PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) which is a course of anti-retroviral tablets that can stop the HIV infection.


Next Steps


If you want to learn more about HIV please visit our HIV FAQs page, or to learn more about the OraQuick HIV Self Test visit our HIV test self-test FAQs page.

Making sense?

If you have questions about HIV self testing feel free to get in touch, we'll be glad to help

You can also message us anonymously on Whatsapp: 07763 489170.