Getting an HIV test is quick, easy and confidential, with some tests offering results as fast as within 20 minutes. A test can give you piece of mind and, if positive, access to treatment to help you lead a long and healthy life. Waverley Care offers HIV testing services, as do other HIV and sexual health charities, GP surgeries and sexual health clinics. HIV home-test kits are also now available in the UK.
There are several different types of HIV test. The vast majority are blood tests. For tests in a GP or clinic setting, blood will be drawn from your arm and analysed in a lab. Results will normally be provided within a few days. In a charity setting, and for home testing kits, a finger-prick blood test is used. Some tests will be sent away to be analysed in a lab whilst others can provide a result in less than an hour.
If you choose to use a home-test and you receive a positive result, you should always have the diagnosis confirmed by a GP or at a sexual health clinic.
You should get an HIV test if you think you’ve exposed yourself to the virus, for example, if you’ve had sex without a condom with someone whose HIV status you do not know, or if you’ve shared injecting needles or equipment. For sexually active gay or bisexual men, it’s usually recommended that you have an HIV test every three months as part of a routine sexual health check up. HIV tests can now give an accurate result as soon as one month after a possible exposure to the virus. In the past, this ‘window period’ was three months after possible infection.