HIV testing is quick, easy and confidential and can give you peace of mind.
If you think you might have been exposed within the last 72 hours, you can take PEP to prevent HIV from taking hold. If it has been more than 72 hours, it is important to not have sex or use a condom until you get tested. If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, you can get in touch with us for advice and support.
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How does an HIV test work?
HIV tests work by detecting HIV antibodies or proteins in your blood. After exposure to HIV, there is a certain time period when HIV tests are not able to detect HIV as there aren’t yet enough HIV antibodies or proteins. This is called a window period.
Why should I get tested for HIV?
You can have HIV without knowing, as symptoms are not always present. An HIV test can put your mind at ease and reduce the anxiety of not knowing.
If you are worried about what will happen if you do test positive for HIV, you can get in touch with us for advice and support. Testing for HIV can be scary because of that ‘what if’, but if you do have it, it’s much better to know so you can seek treatment and support to live a happy and healthy life.
Types of HIV test
- A sample of blood is taken and sent to the laboratory to test for HIV antibodies and proteins to determine whether you are HIV positive or negative.
- Results are usually available within several days.
- A small spot of blood from your finger is taken.
- This sample does not need to be sent to a laboratory and the result is available within a few minutes.
Two types of tests can be ordered online and done at home:
- Home sampling kit, where you collect a few drops of blood at home and send it to a laboratory for testing.
- Home testing kit, where you collect a sample of blood yourself and test it at home. Home testing kit results are available within minutes; however, it’s important to check that any test you buy is licensed for sale in the UK and has a CE quality assurance mark.
A full blood test will be needed after a rapid test or a self-test to confirm the result if the first test is reactive.
Where can I get an HIV test?
HIV tests are free for anyone on the NHS. You can get an HIV test at:
- GP surgery,
- sexual health clinics,
- Waverley Care, by booking a test via our service finder,
If you’re unsure or have any questions or concerns, you can get in touch with us for support and advice.
Looking for support?
If you are living with HIV and need support understanding a new diagnosis, treatment or navigating life with HIV, we are here to help. Get in touch with us by filling out our contact form.