Collecting your blood sample

Last reviewed Nov 2023

Follow these simple steps

A blood sample can test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. This involves pricking your finger with a special needle called a lancet and it shouldn’t be too painful. 

Most people manage to collect their blood sample without any problems, but if you think you might struggle, asking a friend to help take your blood sample can make it easier. 

You might feel a bit nervous, but the following tips can help:

  • Get some tissues to clean up any drops of blood after collecting your sample.
  • Drink a big glass of water 30 minutes before. 
  • Make sure your hands are really warm. This really helps! Wash them in warm water for a minute or more, hold them over a radiator or even have a bath. 
  • Swing your arms in a circular motion and clench and relax your hands several times. 

Here's your step-by-step guide on how to collect your sample

Reminder:

Drink a big glass of water at least 30 minutes before taking your test.

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1. Prepare your kit

  • Get a tissue.
  • Lay your kit out, gently remove the lid from the collection tube. Place the tube into the cardboard tube holder to keep it steady.
  • Keep the lancets and alcohol wipes close by.
  • Wash your hands.

2. Collect your sample ​

Handy tip:

Stand up for the whole process — gravity helps your blood to flow. It can also help to swing your arm around as this gets the blood flowing.

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  • Clean your finger with the alcohol wipe. Twist the tip of the safety lancet to remove the cap.
  • Use your middle or ring fingers as these may be less painful than your index fingers
  • Hold the safety lancet on the side of your fingertip. Push firmly until it clicks, and you feel a short, sharp prick. The lancet only works once.
  • Wipe away the first drop of blood with a clean, dry tissue. 
  • Gently massage your finger from the base to the tip and allow drops to fall into the tube. It can help if you start at your wrist and massage from there down to your fingertip.

  • Once your blood is flowing, drip blood into the collection tube. It should take no more than a couple of minutes to fill the tube.

If you feel faint or unwell at any point, lie down and raise your legs. If you continue to feel unwell, get medical advice.

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3. Fill your sample tubes ​

  • Fill the collection tube above the 400 line, ideally reaching 600. Both lines are shown on the side of the tube.

  • If you can’t get enough blood with one finger, use a spare lancet to try another finger (or two).

  • Press the cap onto the collection tube until it clicks. 

  • Gently turn the tube up and down at least three times.

  • Wipe the outside of the tube ensuring there is no blood on the outside. 

  • Put the bandage on your finger.

  • Put your used lancets into your household waste bin once you have collected all the blood necessary for your sample.
  • Place the sample collection tube in the transport bag, fold the top of the bag over and seal it.

You're all done. Get ready to return your samples to us. 

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4. Complete the form

  • Write your name and date of birth on the form provided, along with the date your samples were collected. If you can’t complete the form yourself, ask someone for help.
  • Place the form and your samples back into the kit box and return the box following the instructions in step three.
  • Please note, your samples cannot be tested without the completed form.

5. Returning your samples

  •  Your samples should be returned on the day they were collected. If this is not possible, store them in a refrigerator until returned.
  • Check that each sample has been closed tightly and is in a sealed transport bag.
  • Place your samples and your completed form back into the kit box. Close it securely by inserting the two large tabs on the box lid into the slots, pressing down firmly to lock them into place. Apply the clear security seal provided or add tape for extra security.
  • The return postage has been pre-paid, just drop the kit box into a USPS mail box.