What your results mean

What do my results mean?

There are a range of results that people who take a test through SH.UK can receive. If you don’t feel comfortable receiving results in this way, you should visit a sexual health clinic where you can be tested and have a face-to-face discussion about your results.

Results you might receive are:

  • Negative means the infection was not identified.
  • Positive means the infection was identified. You will be advised how to get treatment. 
  • Reactive usually applies to blood tests for HIV, syphilis or hepatitis B or C. It means the initial test showed signs of infection and you will usually be advised to attend a local sexual health clinic or sent a repeat test from us. After further testing some people test negative for the infection whereas others may be confirmed positive, indicating they do have the infection.  
  • Inconclusive/Equivocal means the result is not clear cut and further testing is advised. In these situations, you can may be sent a new kit or advised to attend a sexual health clinic.
  • Haemolysed means the blood sample you provided haemolysed during transit and was not able to be tested. Haemolysis is caused by blood cells in the sample bursting open – this can either be caused in transit due to being shaken in the post, or hot/cold weather, or due to squeezing the finger too hard when collecting the sample. It is a normal process for blood to go through, so is nothing to be concerned about. In this situation you can request a new kit yourself via your account or by contacting our team.
  • Insufficient usually applies to blood tests and means there was not enough of a sample provided. In this situation you can request a new kit yourself via your account or by contacting our team. Alternatively attend a sexual health clinic to test there. If you want another kit, please read the tips on taking your blood sample before trying again.
  • Out of protocol results refer to a number of reasons that mean we cannot provide a result for you: samples damaged or not collected properly, or another laboratory problem. In this situation you can request a new kit yourself via your account or by contacting SH.UK.
  • Out of validation results refers to samples that have been returned to us after too much time had lapsed between the sample collection and when they were received in the lab. You can request a new kit yourself via your account or by contacting SH.UK. 

If you ever feel confused or the information available to you is unclear, our team will happily go through this with you.

Reasons for you might receive false positive / false reactive results from SH.UK

SH.UK uses high quality, accredited tests that are extremely reliable, however, no test is 100% accurate all the time. This means, regrettably, there will be a small number of people with an infection who receive a negative result (false negative) and a small number of people without an infection that are given a positive/reactive result (false positive/reactive).

We appreciate receiving false reactive/positive or false negative results can be distressing. Our team can support you should you receive such results.

Sometimes an individual may receive a different test result when they get tested at another testing provider e.g. someone receives a positive gonorrhoea test at SH.UK but then tests negative for gonorrhoea when they attend a sexual health clinic in person. These are called discordant results. Discordant results can be due to a number of reasons. If you are concerned about receiving a discordant result or are unsure whether you should receive treatment or not, please get in touch with our team.