Testing for HIV
 
HIV testing
 
If you're thinking about having an HIV test, or simply want to know more 
about them for any reason, we can help. This is where you can find out about:

- what an HIV test is
- when you should get an HIV test done
- what the results mean
- where you can get HIV tests done
- how to find out more about HIV testing

What is an HIV test?
You can find out if you have become infected with HIV by having a blood test
done. The test doesn't look for the virus itself but for antibodies to the virus. 
Antibodies are made in your blood when an infection has got into your body. 

When should I get an HIV test?
It can take up to three months after infection with HIV before the antibodies 
show up in your blood. These three months are called the window period. 
A test done before these three months are over isn't reliable because a blood 
test may find no antibodies and so you will appear free of HIV, even though 
the reality is that you have been infected (and could pass HIV on to others).

What do the results mean?
If you have a test three months after you've run the risk of getting HIV and no 
antibodies are found the result is said to negative and you are almost certain not
to have HIV. But if you take risks again you could become get HIV. 
A negative HIV test doesn't protect you from getting infected in the future.

If antibodies to HIV have been made in your blood then the test result is positive
and you have HIV. This means that you could pass it on to others through 
unprotected sex, giving blood or sharing needles if you inject drugs. If you did 
any of these during the time between getting HIV and having the test then you 
may have passed on the virus during that period, and should tell those involved
so that they can have an HIV test too.

HIV test results are reliable. To make sure no-one is given the wrong result, 
a positive result is only given after the blood has been tested several times.

Where can I get an HIV test?
HIV tests can be done at the following:

- a Terrence Higgins Trust Fastest clinic
- a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic or specialist HIV clinic
- your family doctor or at a private clinic

You can choose where you go, bearing in mind that each option 
has advantages and disadvantages.

How can I find out more?
There's other things you might want to consider 
when you're going for an HIV test:

- the good and not-so-good things about testing
- what to expect when you go for the test

We're here if you need support at any point during all of these choices.
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