What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which affects the body’s immune system and can break down the immune system’s ability to fight disease and infections.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can be passed on in the following ways:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV. Oral sex also carries some risk.
- Sharing needles, syringes or other drug injecting equipment that is contaminated with HIV infected blood.
- From a mother with HIV to her baby during pregnancy, at birth or through breastfeeding.
- In rare cases, from receiving blood or blood products from an un-checked source. All blood products have been screened in the UK since 1983.
What is an HIV test?
The HIV test determines whether or not someone has antibodies to HIV or in other words, has been infected with HIV.
Can I get an HIV test in any of your clinics?
Presently, we can only provide an HIV test in our central clinic at Cardiff Royal Infirmary. We are unable to perform the test in our other clinics.
What does the test involve?
A small sample of blood will be taken from your arm, sent to the laboratory and tested. An HIV test will be performed only if you give consent.
Our test request forms use ONLY your confidential clinic number and your date of birth.
Why should I have an HIV test?
Although there is no cure for HIV, it is a treatable infection and if found at an early stage, treatment can enable a near normal length of life and prevent the development of AIDS. In common with other Sexual Health Clinics in Wales, Cardiff Royal Infirmary recommends that all people attending our service have an HIV test along with the routine blood test for Syphilis.
Will having an HIV test affect my life insurance?
This test is confidential and no-one will know you have had it.
- Most insurance forms only ask if you have ever tested positive to an HIV test, not whether you have had one.
- GUM/ISH records are separate from your own doctor’s records.
- If your HIV test is positive, it may affect future life insurance. However, we can advise you about companies that deal with this.
How do I get my test result?
By text, letter or prior appointment with the Health Advisor.
What does the result tell me?
- HIV antibodies have NOT been found in your blood.
- If it is less than 3 months since your last risk, you should consider having a repeat test at the appropriate time since it may take 3 months for the antibodies to appear after infection.
- You cannot assume that your partner does not have HIV.
- You could still get HIV in the future if you put yourself at risk.
- You have been infected with HIV.
- Your partner may or may not be infected.
- You will be offered care and support in this department including treatment for HIV.
- You may remain well for many years even without treatment.
- New treatments have made a dramatic improvement in quality of life, and can prevent the development of AIDS .
If your HIV test is positive or gives an unclear result, you will be asked to have another test to confirm the result.
Who should see the Health Advisor when they attend clinic?
We recommend that anyone at significant risk, or who has special concerns, should see the Health Advisor before testing. This includes:
- Men who have sex with men.
- Anyone who has had sex If it is less than 3 months since your last risk, you should consider having a repeat test at the appropriate time since it may take 3 months for the antibodies to appear after becoming infected.
- Sex workers who don’t use condoms – AND their clients.
- Drug users who have shared injecting equipment – AND their partners.
- Anyone who has had medical treatment or a blood transfusion in a developing country.
- Anyone who has had sex against their wishes.
- Anyone who has any other special worries or enquiries, or wants to talk in more detail.