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  • What is Fastest Direct?

    Fastest Direct is Terrence Higgins Trust’s free, confidential and convenient way to test for HIV. Just order a kit, collect a blood sample and send it to our laboratory for testing. It's reliable, completely safe and free.

    We use fourth generation HIV tests, which are recommended as they can best detect both a recent HIV infection and one from longer ago.

    The fourth generation tests test for two things:

    • Antigens to HIV which show in the blood around four weeks after infection.
    • Antibodies which are made by your body - they can take up to 12 weeks to develop.

    Our tests can detect HIV four weeks after it has entered your body, so you’ll need to wait four weeks from a possible risk before you test to be sure you get an accurate result.

  • Who can use Fastest Direct?


    This service is available to anyone who lives in the Essex County Council area.

    At the moment we do not have funding to make the service available to others elsewhere in the country.

    However, free postal testing HIV kits are available in many areas of England from test.hiv.

    If you do not belong to these groups or live in these areas and want a free HIV test in person, you can find your local testing centre by using our Clinic Finder.

  • Why test with Fastest Direct?

    Why Terrence Higgins Trust?

    Fastest Direct is free and completely confidential, as well as being easy and convenient. More than 10,000 people have used our service and 97% of them said they were very satisfied.

    Why postal testing?

    Postal HIV testing offers you the convenience of taking a test in your own time and in your own home.

    If you would prefer to talk to someone before having a test or would like a test that gives a result more quickly, then you can use our Clinic Finder to find a local testing centre.

    What if I have HIV?

    If you do test HIV positive we can help you find a local specialist HIV clinic who will arrange your long term care. We can also refer you to our specialist HIV services like myHIV, counselling, and support groups and talk about your next steps.

    If your test is negative we can provide you with support and advice to help you stay negative.

  • How does Fastest Direct work?

    1.Your kit will arrive in a plain envelope within five working days.

    2. Read the instructions very carefully.

    3. Prick your finger with the lancet provided.

    4. Gently squeeze your finger to help the blood flow into the collection tube.

    5. Seal your sample into the freepost envelope provided.

    6. Post the envelope back to us.

    7. We’ll let you know your results by phone within five working days.

  • How will I take the test and get my results?

    Your results

    We’ll contact you on your mobile phone to give you the result of your test – so expect a call or a text.

    If your test result is negative that means we haven't detected HIV in your blood.

    If the test shows you might have HIV then you’ll need to take a further test at a clinic to confirm the result. We can help you arrange this and if you do have HIV we’ll make sure you get the help and medical care you need.

    If for any reason we were unable to process your test we will contact you and you can order a replacement kit.

  • What about my privacy?

    Here at Terrence Higgins Trust we’ve got a lot of experience of handling confidential information about HIV and we’ve been operating a free HIV postal testing service since these kinds of tests began. We safeguard your privacy and ensure that your data is looked after with the utmost care.

    We are committed to protecting your privacy and we have put measures in place to make sure your personal information is kept securely and is only accessed by those who need it to do their job.

    The information we collect

    In offering this service we may collect and process the following data about you:

    • Details of your visits to our website and the resources that you access, including, but not limited to, traffic data, location data, web-blogs and other communication data. 
    • Information that you provide by filling in the online request form for a HIV postal testing kit. 
    • Information provided to us when you communicate with us for any reason.

    To request a free HIV postal testing kit, you will be asked a number of questions, including some personal questions. The information is held on our secure servers and all personal data is encrypted in transmission. You will return your completed test to the our partner laboratory (TDL) for processing.

    Terrence Higgins Trust and TDL adhere to strict privacy guidelines in order to protect your data, and all information will be treated in strict confidence.

    Your HIV postal testing kit will be posted to the address that you specify in a plain envelope by standard mail and you will be provided with a pre-paid envelope to return your sample to the laboratory through standard mail. Please ensure that the address you provide is suitable as we cannot accept responsibility for any items opened by anyone other than the person it is addressed to.

    Please be aware that by using the postal testing service you give us permission to send you a follow-up survey to help us improve the service whether or not you opt-in to further communications from us.

    Please be advised that we never reveal information about identifiable individuals to other parties unless legally required to do so, for example to comply with the law, or a court order or where there is a clear safety risk to you or to someone else. If this is the case we will always try to inform you.


    We may use the Textanywhere service to text information to you regarding your test and your result. We may also, with your consent, text you in the future to remind you to get tested again or to inform you of other Terrence Higgins Trust services.

    Textanywhere will only collect information necessary to provide the Textanywhere service. This includes name and contact information for clients, for example mobile phone numbers.

    Textanywhere will hold your personal information on their systems for as long as is necessary for the service you have signed-up. This time frame will be for a period of up to two years. After this period, they will continue to hold data for as long as it is required for tax and recording purposes. After the cancellation of any account, they will not use the data for any business or marketing purpose other than for tax and recording purposes.

    Storing your personal data

    We will take all reasonable steps to make sure that your data is treated securely and in agreement with this Privacy Statement. Data that is provided to us is stored on our secure servers in the UK.

    The transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure and therefore we cannot guarantee the security of data sent to us electronically and transmission of such data is therefore entirely at your own risk. If you request a testing kit and do not return a completed test to us we will keep your data for one year. If you complete and return a test to us we will hold your data for the required time for the retention of electronic patient records.

    Service evaluation

    To demonstrate our service is working we need to collect evaluation data from users, and we greatly appreciate your co-operation in this. We will always follow best practice by making data anonymous where possible, only sharing information on a “need to know” basis and fully involving you in all decisions to share identifiable data. It is a prerequisite for participation in the HIV postal testing service that evaluation data is collected so that we can effectively run the service.

    Onward referrals

    If you choose to access other services provided by Terrence Higgins Trust, your details may be shared with other departments where there is a need to do so. Where this is the case you will have agreed to this as part of the service being offered (e.g. counselling, welfare advice, etc). You have the right to prevent this but it may affect the services that we are able to offer you.

    If an HIV test comes back positive then we will advise you of the options for receiving treatment and care and can refer you to a sexual health clinic of your choice in order to access confirmatory tests and support. This will only be done with your consent.

    Sharing without consent

    We will only share your data without your consent if we are legally required to do so, for example to comply with the law, or a court order or where there is a clear safety risk to you or to someone else. If this is the case we will always try to inform you.

    For further information please see the Terrence Higgins Trust full Privacy Statement or contact us:

    Data Controller
    Terrence Higgins Trust
    314-320 Gray’s Inn Road
    London WC1X 8DP
    0808 802 1221

    The Information Commissioner
    If you are not happy with the way that we have handled your request or to find out more about your rights around the use of your personal information you can also contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

    The Information Commissioner
    Wycliff House
    Water Lane
    Cheshire SK9 5AF
    01625 545745

  • What if I have a problem?

    Please get in touch with THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 or fastest@tht.org.uk if:

    • You’ve not received your pack within a week of making your order. 
    • You are having difficulty obtaining a sample.
    • You’ve sent your sample back and not heard from us within a week. 
    • You would like any advice, information or support about HIV or sexual health.

    We will need to confirm your name, date of birth , postcode and phone number to be sure of who you are before we can tell you anything about your test.

The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 11/10/2017 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 11/10/2020

Content Author: R. Scholey

Current Owner: Health promotion

More information:

Fourth generation tests
NAM Aidsmap

HIV antibodies
NAM Aidsmap

What is the window period?
June 2016

HIV and AIDS diagnosis
NHS Choices
July 2017

BASHH Statement on HIV window period

UK National Guidelines for HIV Testing 2008
British HIV Association
British Association of Sexual Health and HIV
British Infection Society
September 2008

HIV testing

Types of test

Home sampling and home testing

Public Health England and Wales, and Public Health Scotland
The HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations

Health Protection Agency
HIV in the United Kingdom: 2012 Report
London: Health Protection Services
November 2012

Life expectancy of HIV-1-positive individuals approaches normal conditional on response to antiretroviral therapy: UK Collaborative HIV Cohort Study
M May, M Gompels, C Sabin

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