Why should I have a HIV test?
Everybody who has had sex is at risk of HIV infection even if that risk is very small. HIV is a treatable condition and people living with HIV can live as long a life as people who are not infected if they are diagnosed on time. Often the only way to know if you have HIV infection is to do the test as there may be no obvious symptoms of infection. We therefore recommend that everybody attending for a sexual health screen should have a HIV test.
There are good reasons for knowing your HIV status.
If you get a negative HIV test result:
- you have the reassurance that you do not have HIV
- we do not have to worry about HIV affecting the way we treat your current condition
- you can continue to take steps to reduce your chances of contracting HIV.
If you get a positive HIV test result:
- you will have more control over who to tell, and when, than if you found out when you were ill with HIV infection
- you can take steps to avoid passing it on to your sexual partners
- there are effective treatments that will stop you getting ill with HIV-related diseases
- the earlier HIV treatment is started, the better the outcomes
- we can adjust the treatment for any other condition you have, if necessary, to make sure that treatment is most effective.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Not everybody will develop symptoms when first infected with HIV. Some people will experience flu like symptoms after they are first infected. This may include:
- Fever/ sweats
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Generalised aches and pains
This is referred to as a seroconversion illness and may last from weeks to months. The chances of passing on HIV at this stage are high.
If you have these symptoms and are concerned it is important to test.
After this stage most people will remain symptom free and well for many years.
In the later stages of HIV infection you may begin to notice that you are ill more frequently than usual or may suffer from repeated infections such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, shingles. If you think that you are unwell more than you would like to be then ask your GP or other health care practitioner about having a HIV test.
How will the HIV test be done?
Traditionall the HIV test is a blood test which we send to the lab. Results are available within 1-2 weeks.
If you are concerned and cannot wait that long for a result please speak to your health care practitioner who may be able to arrange for a more rapid result.
In some cases we will be able to give you a result on the same day as your test.
If you are at risk of having been infected recently (within the past month) we will suggest that you have a repeat test done at least 4 weeks
HIV home test kit
This is our newest addition to the service. You can order your free test online today. It consists of a mouth swab test for HIV which you can perform in your own home. It does not require any blood and you only have to wait 20 minutes for your result.
Visit www.yourship.uk for details.
What will happen if I get a positive result?
If the result is positive a health advisor will ask you to attend the clinic as soon as possible for a second test to confirm this. You will have an opportunity at this appointment to chat with the health advisor and discuss your concerns. You will also have blood tests done to assess your immunity (CD4) and level of viral activity (viral load). If you are well an appointment will be made for you to see a HIV specialist at the clinic within 2 weeks when you will have a full medical assessment and a discussion about when to start treatment and other issues.