Self-testing for HIV is remarkably reliable, especially for detecting long-standing infections. Learn more about these tests and our recommendations for the best ones.

Quick look at the best at-home HIV tests

You can be HIV positive for 10 years or longer without symptoms. For that reason, many people have HIV but don’t know it.

HIV testing at home is a private and efficient way to find out your status. These tests may be particularly reliable for identifying long-standing infections, helping ensure that you get treatment and stop the transmission of HIV to other people.

Read on to learn about the different types of at-home HIV tests, plus our recommendations. 

Types of at-home HIV tests

At-home HIV tests, modified versions of tests used in healthcare settings, are impressively reliable for identifying long-standing infections. They may not be as accurate for detecting new HIV infections. Still, they can be a valuable self-care tool for protecting yourself and others.

Some at-home tests give you a fast response without the need to return your sample to a lab. Others require mailing in a sample, which may take several days before you get results.

There are two types of at-home HIV tests available.

  • Antigen/antibody test: This looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens. The immune system produces antibodies when exposed to HIV. Antigens activate the immune system. For HIV, an antigen called p24 is produced even before antibodies develop. These tests involve a finger-prick blood draw.
  • Antibody test: This test looks for antibodies (IgG) to HIV in the blood or saliva. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner than at-home tests done with blood from a finger prick or with saliva.

HIV testing at home uses the following methods:

  • Oral swab: A quick oral swab is all that’s required to check for HIV antibodies in the saliva. It takes anywhere from 20–40 minutes for results. According to a 2019 paper, blood tests provide more accurate lab results than saliva.
  • Finger prick: These over-the-counter tests require pricking a finger to get a sample for testing. It can take up to 7 business days to get the results.
  • Urine sample or vaginal swab: Some tests check for several types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through the use of additional sample collections.

Healthline’s picks for at-home HIV tests

Best overall

Everlywell

  • Price: $69.99 with free shipping; health savings account (HSA)/flexible spending account (FSA) accepted
  • Type of sample: finger prick
  • Results: within 5 business days

This HIV test from Everlywell screens for IgG antibodies and p24 antigens (viral proteins). This finger-prick method can detect HIV 18–90 days after exposure.

When you return your blood sample, it will undergo testing at a lab certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). An encrypted system will store your information in an encrypted system that accommodates security with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

You’ll get a detailed digital report with your results. If test results are positive, you can connect with the Everlywell physician network at no additional cost.

Pros

  • Reviews say digital results are easy and fast.
  • Free shipping and memberships are available.
  • Tests for antibodies and viral proteins.
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Cons

  • If you take the test too close to the time of potential exposure, the results may be wrong. Results may take longer than you’d like.
  • A finger prick might be taxing for people who can get faint from blood.
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Best for frequent testing

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $149; membership option saves 30%; HSA/FSA eligible
  • Type of sample: finger prick and urine sample
  • Results: 2–5 business days

LetsGetChecked is a testing company that offers several options at various price points. The 4th generation HIV test comes with a combo package called the Standard 5, which checks for:

The other option is to purchase the Complete 8 package. It includes the five STIs listed above and the bacteria Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, and Gardnerella (bacterial vaginosis). The price for the Complete 8 is $249.

After the lab results are ready, a physician will review your report. You can arrange a call with a LetsGetChecked clinician if you have any questions or concerns.

If you need medication, you can get it at no additional charge, although prescribing guidelines vary by state and diagnosis. All shipments arrive at your door in discreet packaging.

The LetsGetChecked membership option sends you tests every 3 months.

Pros

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Cons

  • You can’t buy an HIV test without buying a package.
  • More expensive than other at-home HIV testing options.
  • Testing for STIs other than HIV may be unnecessary.
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Best for fast delivery

myLAB Box

  • Price: $79
  • Type of sample: finger prick
  • Results: 2–5 business days

The myLAB Box HIV test is a combination antigen/antibody test. The test detects HIV p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV type 1 (HIV-1 groups M and O) and HIV type 2 (HIV-2) in human blood. 

According to the company, the test is 99.9 % accurate. Each test kit comes with detailed instructions and illustrations.

The test uses a self-collected finger-prick blood sample mailed to a qualified lab. The company says the cost includes two-way postage and lab service fees.

MyLAB Box also offers post-test counseling by telehealth to provide assistance and answer your questions.

You retrieve test results by logging into a secure portal. MyLAB Box tests are also available from Amazon.

Pros

  • Works with College of American Pathologists (CAP) and CLIA-certified testing labs.
  • Secure and encrypted network to store your information.
  • Fast arrival and delivery, according to user reviews.
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Cons

  • Temporarily unavailable in New York state.
  • More expensive than other at-home tests on the market.
  • Does not have a membership option.
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Best budget option

OraQuick

  • Price: $38.99; qualifies for HSA/FSA spending
  • Type of sample: oral swab
  • Results: within 20 minutes

This test, which has approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), checks for antibodies.

To get tested with OraQuick, you only need an oral swab — there is no need to draw blood. All orders arrive in an unmarked brown box to ensure privacy.

The OraQuick test may detect HIV within 2 weeks of infection, but it may take longer depending on the person. Experts caution that users should view the results as preliminary.

The kit includes step-by-step instructions. All results are confidential. It screens for HIV-1 and HIV-2. A positive result does not definitively mean infection but more testing is necessary. A negative result may not be accurate if you have had exposure within the last 3 months.

Pros

  • Saliva swab only — no need to draw blood.
  • Fast results.
  • 20 million tests sold, and the same test that healthcare professionals have used since 2004.
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Cons

  • More testing may be necessary.
  • Waiting for more testing can be worrisome.
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How the best at-home HIV tests compare

PriceType of sampleResults
Everlywell$69.99finger prickwithin 5 business days
LetsGetChecked$149finger prick and urine sample2–5 business days
myLAB Box$79finger prick2–5 business days
OraQuick$38.99oral swabwithin 20 minutes

How we chose

To compile this list, we looked at at-home HIV tests offered by CLIA-certified labs. We also considered each test’s cost, results for delivery time, insurance or health savings spending approval, and ease of purchasing.

How to choose

Choosing an at-home HIV test is largely dependent on what you want. If you want to test regularly, you can subscribe and save money. If you’re looking for a one-time test, you can purchase a single test.

In addition, if you’re averse to seeing blood or are uncomfortable with a finger prick, you can opt for a saliva-based test.

When to get tested for HIV

The only way to know whether you have HIV is to get tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine healthcare.

Men who have sex with men may benefit from more frequent testing — for example, every 3–6 months.

If you have a higher risk of contracting HIV, get tested more frequently. Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, consider getting tested with your partner.

When to talk with a doctor

A positive at-home test doesn’t necessarily mean you have HIV. False positives do happen. However, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional for additional testing.

If you know you’ve had exposure to HIV, consult a doctor.

Frequently asked questions

The results of at-home HIV tests are about as accurate as medical office laboratory tests. Oral swab tests may not be as accurate as blood tests, especially if the infection is new.

A 2018 research review compared self-testers with trained healthcare workers. The researchers found that people at home can reliably and accurately perform HIV rapid diagnostic tests.

No matter what your at-home test results are, it is advisable to follow up with a healthcare professional for testing and, if necessary, treatment.

Yes. At-home HIV tests are about as accurate as laboratory tests that use samples acquired by a healthcare professional.

According to the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, the SURE CHECK HIV Self Test is 99.8% accurate.

Without testing, HIV can remain undetected in the body for 10 years or longer. You may have early symptoms immediately after infection that get misdiagnosed as the flu or a cold. After that, the virus may go latent for many years, during which no symptoms occur. HIV that goes untreated will advance into AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

Are at-home HIV tests accurate?

For example, a 2018 research review compared self-testers with trained healthcare workers. The researchers found that people at home can reliably and accurately perform HIV rapid diagnostic tests.

The bottom line

Better access to HIV testing allows people to start treatment sooner. Today, there are many easy, convenient options for testing. You can walk into your neighborhood pharmacy and pick up an at-home HIV test or order one online.

HIV is no longer the devastating disease it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Thanks to advancements in medicine, HIV is now an incredibly manageable condition, and people with HIV can live long, healthy lives.