HIV Testing

The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test. HIV testing is confidential and free. Being diagnosed early can help you stay well and reduce risk to partners.

For many patients, the service we offer is a blood test. Samples are sent to our laboratory and results are available within five working days.

How do I get tested?

Visit St James Health Centre. Contact us here to arrange an appointment.

Prevention against HIV

Condoms – Using a condom during sex is the best way to prevent catching HIV.

PEP – If you’ve had sex with somebody who may be HIV positive, you can reduce your chances of HIV infection by taking post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure (PEPSE) within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.

PrEP–  Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis involves HIV negative people taking Truvada (a drug currently used to treat people with HIV) as a method of helping to prevent HIV infection. Recent research has shown that if taken correctly, Truvada is highly effective at preventing HIV infection. Unfortunately, the cost of PrEP medicines is not currently covered by the NHS. However we can provide free advice and monitoring in any of our routine sexual health appointments. ‘Generic’ PrEP is available online.

Why test

People can live with HIV for years before having any symptoms. The only way to be sure is to have an HIV test.

Getting tested for HIV means that, if you are infected with the virus, you can receive treatment and care before the infection causes too much damage to your body and health.

It is really important to get tested regularly for HIV if you are sexually active and when you change sexual partners because HIV often has no symptoms.

What does the test involve?

A blood test is the usual way HIV is detected. We will take a sample of blood either from your arm or from a finger prick. We will be looking for HIV antibodies, or/and the p24 antigen.

How long does it take for HIV to show up in a test?

Signs of HIV infection can’t be detected in the blood immediately. It usually happens within four weeks of infection (sometimes longer). This is known as the window period. HIV can still be passed on during the window period even though it can’t be detected.

Different tests take different lengths of time before they can detect a recent infection. If your risk was recent the testing centre will probably advise you to have a test immediately, followed by a second one a few weeks later (this will pick up any recent infection the first test might have missed).

How will I find out my results?

If you test in a clinic or testing centre, blood is taken from your arm so you might get your result later that day, in a day or so, or possibly up to a week or so later.

If getting your result quickly is important, call ahead and ask how soon results are ready.

If you test in a clinic, positive test results are not given by post, text or over the phone, but in person.

If there’s a problem with your sample or the result is positive, you’ll be contacted by phone.

What should I do if my HIV test is positive?

Following a positive result, you’ll have a longer talk about what happens next, what support is available and arrangements will be made to see an HIV specialist who will take care of your health.

Need advice?

Speak to one of the team to receive more information about HIV testing. Use the contact form below to speak to one of the team.

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