HIV testing is part of the routine screen offered to everyone that attends the clinic. If you wish you can attend for just an HIV test.
The HIV blood test
It is a simple blood test sent to the laboratory for analysis. The HIV test result is only valid if you have not placed yourself at risk of HIV infection in the four weeks preceding the test.
Your HIV result
During your consultation we will discuss the best way to receive your result. If there is a strong chance you may be positive we prefer to arrange a follow up appointment in the clinic. However you can choose – the options are:
- By text message in four working days together with all your other screening results.
- By text message in two days – if you are just having an HIV test.
- A telephone appointment.
- A follow up appointment in the clinic after two days.
NOTE: we only send negative results by text message – you will receive an ‘all clear’ message. If your HIV result is positive or needs repeating one of the nurses will contact you on the mobile phone number you have provided.
A negative HIV result
This means that we could not detect any evidence of HIV infection in your blood and you are HIV negative – assuming your HIV exposure risk is not within the last four weeks. If it is you will need to repeat your HIV test at a later date. You still need to protect yourself in the future by using a condom.
A positive HIV result
This means that we found evidence of HIV infection in your blood with the presence of antibodies and/or parts of the virus itself. You are HIV positive. We always confirm the result with a second test using another blood sample. We will arrange immediate counselling and support for you with one of our specialist HIV nurses who will also arrange:
- Blood tests to check out the strength of your immune system and general health.
- An appointment for you to see one of our specialist Consultants in HIV – this will be in 7 –10 days.
- To put you in contact with other support agencies if that would help you.
We advise confiding in a partner or close friend to help you during this period. The outlook for people diagnosed with HIV is now very good. Modern treatment is very effective at controlling the HIV virus and most people can expect a fairly normal life expectancy if they are diagnosed early enough.
Rapid HIV testing
This is often called a point of care test (POCT). We take a finger prick blood sample and perform an immediate test in the clinic with a result in 10 –15 minutes. These tests are less sensitive – they only detect antibodies to HIV so miss early infection in the first four weeks. The rate of false positives is higher than with our standard blood test. We always take a back up standard HIV test, see HIV blood test above, to confirm the result. For these reasons we don’t offer rapid HIV tests routinely to everyone. We offer rapid testing to:
- People at high risk of HIV (whose exposure risk is more than four weeks ago)
- Prior to starting PEPSE (find out more about PEPSE)
- At the discretion of the doctor or nurse
National Sexual Health Helpline 0800 567 123 (24 hours– provides advice and directs to other services)
THT Direct Helpline 0845 12 21 200 (10.00 – 22.00 Mon to Fri; 12.00 – 18.00pm weekends)
National Drugs Helpline 0800 77 66 00 (24 hours)