HIV – what you need to know
Book your private HIV test or HIV home test kit today
Your Sexual Health offer a range of private STD testing options for people who are worried that they may have contracted HIV. If you’re worried about HIV or think that you may have contracted the virus then you can book a private HIV test at one of our clinics or buy a HIV home test kit today. Find out more about the virus in this information leaflet written by Your Sexual Health expert Dr Rashid Bani.
What is HIV?
HIV, also known as human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that affects a person’s immune system and reduces their ability to fend off serious infections and disease. If it is not diagnosed or treated it can progress to become AIDS, a condition where the body completely loses its ability to fend off life-threatening infections.
How is HIV contracted?
It can be passed from person to person in a number of different ways. The most common cause is when someone has sex with an infected individual without a condom. HIV is a virus that is contained in the bodily fluids of an infected individual, but only certain kinds of bodily fluid contain enough of the virus to infect someone. These include: –
- Seminal fluid
- Vaginal Fluid
- Anal Mucus
- Breast Milk
Anal and vaginal sex are the most common ways to pass on HIV, with the NHS reporting that this accounts for 95% of all cases in the UK. However, it is also possible in rare circumstances to pass the virus on via oral sex.
What are the private HIV test options?
Although you may be able to work out if you are at risk of having contracted HIV, testing is the only way to be 100% sure whether you have the virus. Your Sexual Health offer a private HIV test and a HIV home test which will be able to accurately diagnose you if you feel you may have been exposed to the virus.
The test is accurate from 28 days after you may have caught the virus and is taken as a pin prick blood sample. The turnaround time for our private HIV test and HIV home test is 4 hours from when it is received by the laboratory. You can arrange either of the tests by clicking the booking buttons at the top of this page.
How is HIV treated?
If your private HIV test with us returns a positive result we can offer you a telephone consultation with one of our GPs. Here we offer you advice on the next stages of your management against the virus. Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV, however with effective medication it’s possible for those with the condition to live a long and healthy life.
HIV is combatted using antiretroviral medications that help fight off viral infections. In order for the HIV virus not to build up a resistance to any medication you will take a combination of drugs for the rest of your life. Without treatment the immune system will become damaged beyond repair leading to AIDS. Early diagnosis and effective treatment will help improve any HIV prognosis.
How can HIV be prevented?
The most effective prevention for HIV is by wearing protection during sex. If you are sleeping with someone and you are not 100% sure that they don’t have a sexually transmitted disease then you should always wear a condom. People who have HIV can reduce the risk of passing on the infection with effective antiretroviral therapy.
How many people have HIV?
According to the NHS website there are approximately 103,700 people in the UK living with HIV. The majority of these were infected through sex, with the figures indicating that 43,000 gay and bisexual men and 54,100 heterosexuals have the virus.
It’s believed that 17% of people with HIV are unaware that they have the condition.
Incidence rates suggest that around one in 620 people have the virus in the UK, with the highest rates appearing amongst gay and bisexual men and black African heterosexuals.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is by completing a test like the private HIV test and HIV home tests that are on offer at Your Sexual Health. However, many people who have contracted the virus can experience a flu-like illness which occurs two to six weeks after infection. Symptoms of which may or may not include: –
- Sore throat
- Body rash
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
Around 80% of people who contract HIV experience the illness which can last as long as two weeks. Following this there are no symptoms that indicate HIV for many years, but the virus continues to cause damage to the body’s immune system.
If HIV is left untreated the immune system will become severely damaged. Common symptoms of late stages of HIV and AIDS include:-
- Weight loss
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Night sweats
- Skin problems
- Recurrent infections
- Life-threatening illnesses