Why Is My HIV Test Taking So Long? 

Testing yourself for HIV can be a scary process, but nothing is worse than waiting long periods of time for your results.

Depending on how you are testing yourself for HIV, you can receive your results as soon as 15 minutes – but what happens if your HIV test is taking longer? 

Why Is My HIV Test Taking So Long

Here we are going to be taking a look at how long HIV test results take to come back to you and what you should do if they are taking longer.

However, there are different options available depending on what method you have chosen to test yourself for HIV

So, let’s go through the different methods to see what you can do! 

Rapid Testing For HIV

A recent invention is rapid tests  for HIV which, after being done, can take as little as 15 minutes to give you back your result.

However, these HIV rapid tests can also take 60 minutes even if the average test only takes 20 minutes to give you your results. 

So, if you have been waiting for 30 or 40 minutes, then hold on – your results should show in the next half hour.

If the test is taking any longer to show you your results, then it’s possible that you have had an invalid result. 

Invalid results occur when something has gone wrong with the test, and they show the invalid results by showing no control line after an hour after first taking the test.

An invalid test can happen for a number of reasons so it’s best to try again using a different rapid test kit. 

So, if you have been waiting for your HIV rapid test result for over an hour but  there are still no control lines, then this means you have had an invalid result and you need to repeat the test.

It’s not a sign that you have tested positive or negative for HIV – it just means that something went wrong with the test and you need to try again. 

How Long Does It Take For Lab Results To Get Back To You?

Raid testing for HIV is not the only way to diagnose yourself. 

Some people have a sample of their body fluid (blood, etc) taken by their doctor and the sample is sent off to a laboratory in order to be tested.

Although this method is more reliable and less likely to give a false result, it does take longer to find out your results. 

Most samples that are sent to a laboratory take a few days to be tested and reported back, so you should receive your results within a time frame of a few days to a few weeks.

The reason for this variance in time comes down to a few different reasons. It could be that the clinic or laboratory has a lot of results to deal with before they can get to yours, or your sample has to  travel further to get to the right lab for testing. 

Although the reasons vary, you should be prepared to wait at least a few weeks before you get your results back.

If they come back sooner, then great! However, if it’s been two weeks and you are worried about not receiving your results yet, then you can call your doctor to see if there have been any updates. If not, then hang tight! 

Why Is My HIV Test Taking So Long

Why Are My HIV Results Taking So Long? 

You should not be waiting more than three months for your results. If this is the case, then you need to contact your doctor to find out why you haven’t received your results.

They should be able to get an update and get back to you. 

How you will receive your results differs from lab to lab. Some will call you personally and give your results over the phone the moment they have received them.

Others will send your results in the mail and others require you to pick them up in person. 

So, it could be that your test results are ready and waiting for you! 

It’s not uncommon for mail to go missing or for one person at the clinic to forget to call you to tell you your results are ready.

In these events of human error, a simple phone call from you can set things in order. 

Does It Mean My Test Is Negative If The Results Are Taking So Long?

This is a common misconception when it comes to all kinds of medical tests, not just ones related to HIV. 

Many believe that if you don’t hear your test results soon after the test is done, then this is a sign that you have tested positive.

This is not true – and neither is the reverse! 

If your HIV test is taking a while then the most likely reason why this is the case is that your sample is much further along in a long queue of samples that need to be tested.

Only so many samples can be tested per day in each lab and then, the doctors and lab technicians need to be super careful not to mix up results to ensure you get the right result. 

So, how soon you hear back from your doctor has no relation whatsoever to your results.

The moment your test is completed, the medical staff will work tirelessly to get them back to you as soon as possible no matter if they are negative or positive. 

Basically, no news is no news – it’s not a bad sign that your results are taking forever to get back to you, nor is it a good one that they have.

It just means that the lab had less samples to test that day and got to yours sooner or they are very busy and the process is taking longer. 


How soon you can expect your HIV test results all depends on the method of testing. 

Rapid tests will give you an answer within 60 minutes and anything longer is an invalid result. This means that you need to retake the test. 

If you have sent a sample off to a lab, then you must wait a few weeks before ringing your doctor to check your results.

Some results can get lost in the mail or someone has forgotten to call you to tell you what they were – just ring your doctor and ask for an update to see what’s going on. 

Then, you will hopefully have the results you want. Good luck! 

Joshua Damie
Latest posts by Joshua Damie (see all)