HIV test: Test methods

In Germany, various testing methods exist. The choice of method depends upon the following factors:

  • Time gap between the possible incident that may have led to an infection 
  • Evaluation of the sample (laboratory or on site)
  • Waiting time for the result 
  • Locality and accessibility of testing service
  • Cause: clarify the infection risk or monitor an HIV treatment 
  • chevron_rightHIV laboratory test

    In this case, a blood sample will be sent to a laboratory. As a rule, the result will be available within a few days. The laboratory will carry out a so-called screening test as well as a confirmatory test. In case of a negative laboratory test, an HIV infection can reliably be excluded after six weeks. 

  • chevron_rightHIV quick test

    The advantages of a quick test are the immediate results after a few minutes. Quick tests are a kind of screening test. Therefore, a so-called reactive result must be confirmed by a laboratory. HIV infection can only be ruled out with certainty by a rapid test twelve weeks after a risk-situation. 

  • chevron_rightHIV self-test

    HIV self-tests are basically quick tests. Therefore, an HIV infection can only be excluded safely after twelve weeks (see above).

    As of September 29, 2018 HIV self-tests are freely available for sale in Germany. Some facilities or organizations offer a guided HIV self-test. Click here for more information.