Although infection is not common it is still important to be tested because the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the outcome is for those infected with HIV.
Once someone is infected with HIV the virus will remain in their body for the rest of their life. There is currently no cure for HIV but treatment can help most people with HIV to live much longer and feel well.
HIV is most often passed on during unprotected sex. It can also be passed on by sharing needles if injecting drugs or sharing drug-using equipment, and from mother to child during childbirth and breastfeeding.
A finger-prick test is used and you will be told the result straight away. Occasionally a larger sample of blood is taken for testing and the results are available in about a week. If your test results suggest an infection, we will arrange for specialist care for you within the NHS.
HIV is managed with medication known as Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). If you have had sex in the last 3 days (72 hours) with someone known to be HIV positive (or have been sexually assaulted), you can be given a short course of ART drugs (PEP) to help prevent infection. This should be sought as soon as possible from a GUM or Sexual Health Clinic or A&E department.
We have strict rules to ensure that the information collected about you is kept safe and secure.
You can choose to get your results ideally by text, or email for convenience, or we can call you. We will ask if it is OK for us:
- To leave a message (when we contact you to give you your results)
- To contact the NHS about your results (if we cannot contact you in person)
A password and unique reference number will be agreed at your consultation. This is to check your identity, and confirm that it is safe to discuss your test results over the phone.
If we cannot confirm your identity over the telephone (for example, if you have forgotten your password/reference number), you will be asked to return to the BPAS unit where your tests were done to discuss your results.