Getting tested

If you think you might be at risk, you should seek medical advice immediately. The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.

The test for HIV is a simple blood test. We offer all patients HIV testing (see examinations).

If you test positive for HIV, the good news is today we have treatments that can prevent people with HIV from becoming unwell and which enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.

Anyone who has had unprotected sex may be at risk of HIV. However, men who have sex with men and people from certain parts of the world are more at risk. It can also be passed on by sharing infected needles or from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. This is very unlikely if you and your doctors know you are HIV positive before the baby is born.

Most people who are infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs two to six weeks after infection. Not everyone experiences early symptoms, so you should still take an HIV test if you have put yourself at risk.  HIV often causes no symptoms for several years, so the only way to know whether you have HIV is to take the test.

Treatment

If you test positive for HIV, we will discuss the options for treatment with you. Nowadays, it is recommended that people with HIV start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible.

There is no cure for HIV, but by properly managing your condition – taking your medication correctly every day – will prevent damage to the immune system. Today medication has been simplified and usually only involves taking one or two pills a day.

Prevention

The main way to prevent HIV infection is to avoid activities that put you at risk, such as having sex without a condom and sharing needles.

Medical clinics

It is very important that those who attend for ongoing HIV care are seen during a “medical clinic” session where you will see a doctor trained in HIV care. When booking an appointment please indicate that you are HIV positive, or say you need to attend the medical clinic.

These clinics provide a full range of outpatient treatment and care for people with HIV infection, as well as sexual health care and ongoing support. We also have close links with an HIV Community Support Team and specialist pharmacists.