How do I know if I have HIV?

An HIV test can tell if you have become infected with HIV. HIV tests are extremely accurate.

The tests used today can usually tell if a person has HIV within a month of their infection. However to be certain that a person does not have HIV, it’s recommended to test again three months after possible exposure to HIV.

If you have HIV, it’s very important that it’s diagnosed. This will give you the best chance of getting the treatment and care you need to stay well.

Where can I get an HIV test?

If you are living in the Birmingham area, you can get an HIV test at any of our clinics, or by contacting our advice hotline on 0121 424 8984.

HIV tests are available in lots of healthcare settings. This might be in a sexual health clinic, doctor’s surgery, hospital or private clinic, for example. In many countries, there are also places where you can be tested in your local community.

You may also be offered an HIV test as part of care for another health matter, such as maternity care, or as part of a sexual health check-up.

‘Home testing’ kits are generally not recommended, as there is no guarantee these will be reliable. In some countries, including the US and the UK, you can buy ‘home sampling’ kits, where you take a sample of blood or saliva yourself at home, but then send it to a laboratory to be analysed.

In the UK, you can get a free and confidential HIV test at any NHS sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic. These clinics are linked into specialist HIV services, and there’ll be support available to you if your result is positive.

What does an HIV test involve?

There are several different types of HIV tests. Often a small sample of blood is taken and analysed in a laboratory. Other tests give an initial rapid result using finger-prick blood, or even saliva. It’s often possible to get a test result the same day.

The tests used today can usually tell if a person has HIV within two or three weeks of their infection. In the past you might have had to wait three months to be certain that your test result is accurate.

It’s a good idea to talk to the person giving you the HIV test if you have any questions about it.

The above information has been adapted and medically verified from information supplied by AIDSMap. You can view their extensive HIV testing resources, including downloadable leaflets and other materials, by clicking here.