Testing for HIV

When and why to test for HIV

We believe that everyone should be aware of their own HIV status and getting an HIV test has never been easier, with some tests now offering immediate results. If you think you have exposed yourself to risk, for example, by having sex without a condom with someone with HIV or whose HIV status you do not know, or by sharing injecting equipment, you should get a test as soon as possible.

You can only know your HIV status by taking a HIV test. If you are positive, knowing your HIV status puts you in control of your health and means you can access the medical treatment and support you need to stay well. With early diagnosis, treatment and healthcare, people living with HIV can expect a normal life expectancy.

It can take between three weeks and three months after you have been infected with HIV for the virus to show up in testing. If your most recent risk of getting HIV was within the last three months you can test straight away, but you will be advised to have another one a few weeks later.

Certain groups of people are at particularly high risk and are advised to have regular tests:

  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men are advised to have an HIV test at least once a year as part of a routine sexual health check-up, or more regularly if they’re having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.
  • Black African men and women are advised to have an HIV test, and STI screen if they’re having unprotected sex with new or casual partners
  • Other people at an increased risk of infection include those who share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.


How to test for HIV?

In Berkshire you can get free HIV tests at Sexual Health Clinics – the Reading Florey Unit or the Slough Garden Clinic.

For more information on our tests and how to book an appointment or to order a test click here.

You can now purchase HIV home-testing kits online. However, with free testing available through charities and sexual health clinics we would always recommend you get a test conducted by a health care professional as they will be able to support you through the process

If you do receive a positive result, TVPS will be here to provide you with the support you may need. We will be able to talk with you about your diagnosis and will be able to help you understand what living with HIV might mean for you.

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