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What you need to know about HIV Self-Tests

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 24 May 2024

What you need to know about HIV Self-Tests


The Atomo HIV self-testing kit, the first and only regulator approved HIV testing kit, is now available at Blooms The Chemist.

This means that anyone who thinks that they may have HIV can do a screening test at home or in private and get results in just 15 minutes.

The self-tests, which are sold by atomo, will cost $24.99, and have an accuracy level of 99.6%.

How does the HIV self test work? 

In laboratory settings, the Atomo HIV self test has been able to correctly identify 99.6% of HIV negative and HIV positive samples. 

Having HIV tests available in pharmacies is an initiative that is strongly supported by Dr Amy Moten, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Sexual Health1. 

‘We know that in order to reduce transmission, but also to reduce morbidity from HIV, the earlier someone is diagnosed, the sooner they can start treatment, which increases their life expectancy,” she explained to RACGP. 

‘It also reduces the risk of them transmitting HIV to someone else. 

‘And if people are doing this test who wouldn’t have normally done regular serology testing with their GP, they are more likely to be diagnosed and treated earlier.’ 

However, it’s important to note that the self-tests are a screening test only. This means that if you do receive a positive test result, you’ll still need to confirm your test results with a blood test. 

Are the self-tests accurate? 

The self-test is 99.6% accurate if your last HIV exposure was more than three months ago. 

The window period for the Atomo HIV self test is three months, which means that if you've had a recent exposure to HIV in the last three months, this exposure may not be captured in your reading. 

If you think you have been exposed to HIV in the last three months, please contact your doctor, sexual health clinic or healthcare professional for more information. 

When should I get tested for HIV? 

You should get tested if you think you could have HIV or have been exposed to HIV.

You can speak to your doctor or your sexual health clinic about being tested or do a HIV self testing kit in the comfort of your own home. 

You should get tested for HIV if2: 

  • You've had unprotected sex (vaginal or anal) with a partner whose HIV status is unknown 

  • You've had unprotected sex (vaginal or anal) with a person from a country that has high rates of HIV infection 

  • You've shared injecting equipment 

  • You've had unprotected sex with a sex worker from Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or Papua New Guinea 

  • Your sexual partner has travelled to a country that has high rates of HIV infection and may have had unprotected sex there 

Early diagnosis is important and can improve the long-term course of your illness. 

You may also want to speak to your doctor or sexual health clinic about STI testing, as these can also impact your immune system. 

How do I use the Atomo HIV self-test? 

Prick your finger by pushing against the grey button on the test, which comes with a sterile lancet. Don’t worry, it’ll feel like a rubber band snap.  

After you’ve added the blood to the blood collection unit, rotate the unit until you hear a click3.    

Your blood will then be drawn onto the test strip, then apply 4 drops of test fluid into the well.   

Your results will appear on the paper strip after 15 minutes.  

You can watch how to do the test here; instructions are also in your test box.  

The Atomo HIV self test kit is essentially a finger prick blood test that can be used to detect HIV.

What happens if I get a positive result from the HIV testing kit? 

The Atomo HIV Self Test is a very accurate screening test. Because it is a screening test, getting a positive result does not necessarily mean you have HIV.  

If you have received a positive result on the self-test, it will still need to be confirmed with further testing by a doctor.  

You can refer to the support links on this site or as detailed in the care card included in the test. 

If you receive a positive result with the follow-up testing, it is important that you speak to a doctor about starting treatment.  

HIV is a manageable condition; treatment today is very effective, and those living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. 

How do I get diagnosed with HIV? 

There are three ways you can get diagnosed with HIV, which include2: 

  • A blood test, where your doctor or sexual health clinic orders a blood test for HIV and your blood sample is sent to a laboratory. Your results can take a few days to come back. 

  • A rapid HIV test, which can be a finger prick blood test or a saliva test. Your results can come back within 10 to 20 minutes, but HIV results will always need to be confirmed by laboratory tests.  

  • HIV self testing kits, which is a finger-prick blood test that you can do in the comfort of your own home. The only test kit that has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia is the Atomo HIV self test, which is sold at Blooms The Chemist. 

What is HIV? 

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system, and if left untreated, can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). 

There is currently no effective cure, but home testing and access to HIV self tests mean that people living with HIV can get effective treatment faster and have a near-normal life expectancy. 

Some symptoms of HIV include2: 

  • fever 

  • fatigue 

  • headache

  • sore throat

References

1The Royal College of General Practitioners News, HIV self-tests to be sold in pharmacies, accessed 2 March, 2023 

2 Healthdirect, HIV infection and AIDS, accessed 27 February 2024 

3 Atomo, FAQ, accessed 27 February 2024