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Testing and treatment

Testing

The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test.

If you’re aged 16 or above and living in Bimingham or Solihull, you can request a free sexually transmitted infection (STI) self-sampling kit and get tested from home. An HIV test is included.

All Umbrella sexual health clinics offer free HIV testing. Some GPs also offer HIV testing for their patients.

For many patients, the service we offer is a blood test. Samples are sent to our laboratory and results are available within five working days.

For certain patients we can also offer a finger-prick test in the clinic, which returns a result within about 20 minutes. A doctor or nurse will advise whether this is suitable for you.

If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and get tested. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment and avoid becoming ill. (It may be two weeks or more after exposure to the virus before a test provides accurate results.)

Gender

For testing purposes, we may need to know if your gender was different at birth, or if you are non-binary. The doctor, nurse or healthcare worker will discuss this with you.

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

PEPSE

If you’ve had sex with somebody who may be HIV positive, you can reduce your chances of HIV infection by taking post-exposure prophylaxis after sexual exposure (PEPSE) within 72 hours of exposure to the virus.

If you’ve had sex with somebody who may be HIV positive within the last 72 hours, please visit Whittall Street Clinic (if open) or your nearest A&E department immediately.

Treatment

There is no cure for HIV but it is treatable. If your test is positive, we will refer you to a specialist HIV clinic at a hospital that is convenient for you to attend. The doctors at the hospital will be able to assess when you need to start taking antiviral (anti-HIV) tablets.

Treatments for HIV are very good, and you should be able to lead a long and healthy life if the diagnosis is made early, before you become seriously ill. The earlier you are tested and HIV is diagnosed, the better the physical outcome.

AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. With early diagnosis and effective treatment, extremely few people with HIV will go on to develop AIDS.

Not sure which service you need? Worried because you’ve had sex without a condom? Let us help you choose the right option.

Detailed information about HIV is available on the NHS website.

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs and HIV.