What is HIV?
HIV stands for ‘human immunodeficiency virus’. It is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. In the UK, it is most commonly transmitted by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom. Click here for more information about HIV prevention and treatment.
Who should test?
Everyone who has ever had sex should be aware of their HIV status, and test regularly if there are on-going risks. Testing for HIV is now easier than ever.
Why should I test?
Knowing your HIV status means you no longer need to worry. If you test negative you can take steps to protect yourself, such as taking PrEP. If you test positive, an early diagnosis means you can start simple and effective treatment sooner, which will reduce the chances of becoming unwell. Now we have effective treatment, HIV has become like many other medical conditions. By taking as few as one tablet a day the virus is completely controlled and cannot be passed on. People diagnosed early with HIV and started on treatment can remain fit and well, and live as long as anyone else.
When should I test?
The sooner the better – don’t wait to seek advice. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last 72hrs you may be able to take PEP. The tests we use mainly look for antibodies that your body produces in response to infection. These take some time to be detectable. This period of time between sex and testing is known as a window period. HIV can be reliably ruled out 45 days after any risk using a laboratory test or 90 days using a self-test.
How can I test?
An HIV test is a routine blood test offered to everybody having a sexual health screen in clinic. Staff will be able to talk through any concerns that you may have. Or you can order a self-sampling kit using our at home STI testing service if you don’t have any symptoms and you live in Brighton & Hove.
There are lots of other places you can get a free HIV test in Brighton & Hove.
Did you know you can now test for HIV yourself using a rapid self-test kit? These tests are extremely accurate (99.7%) and by using a single drop of blood or a mouth swab, give a result in just 15 minutes. They are available to buy online, from some pharmacies or free through one of our Digital Vending Machines. Reactive results always need confirming at a sexual health clinic. A negative result is reassuring, but very recent HIV infection (within the last 90 days) may not be detected by this test, so you should always re-test again in 3 months if you’ve had a recent risk. More information on understanding your HIV self-test result can be found here.
Tips for how to take a blood sample at home using our at home STI testing Service:
Tips for how to use the Oraquick oral HIV test at home when using our Digital Vending Machines: