1. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease. HIV Testing Week is a national campaign, co-ordinated by HIV Prevention England, which starts on 18th November.
  2. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS. Accessing treatment early and adhering to your treatment plan can mean that you maintain a healthy immune system and live just as long as you would have without HIV. It’s important to get diagnosed and treated early.If you have HIV and you are on effective treatment then you cannot pass on the virus.
  3. National Aids Trust reported that of those receiving HIV care in 2015, 48% (41,945 people) had been exposed through sex between a man and a woman and 47% (41,016 people) were exposed through sex between men. By answering a few short questions you can find out whether you should get a HIV test.
  4. In 2015 over 95% of people living with HIV in the UK had acquired the virus through sex without a condom. Try this tool to find the right condom for you or this one to find free condom services near you.
  5. Whilst unprotected sex is the main cause of HIV, it is not the only way that the virus can be passed between people. It’s important that you understand your risk and how HIV is passed on. This includes useful myth-busting and where to access more information.
  6. HIV has three stages and you may not have any symptoms. At stage 1 you may develop flu-like symptoms but not everyone will experience this. During stage 2 your immune system is constantly responding to the virus but you will not have any symptoms and this stage can last for many years. Stage 3 is when the immune system has been so badly damaged that it can no longer fight off serious infections and diseases. So it’s important to get tested appropriately and as early as you can.
  7. An HIV test involves taking a small sample of saliva or blood. If there are signs of infection you will receive a positive test result. In this case a follow up blood test would be needed to confirm your result. Please visit the NHS website for more information on the type of HIV tests available.
  8. You can choose where to have a HIV test or you can order a test-kit free of charge for eligible individuals. The test will arrive in plain packaging and your test results will be shared with you confidentially. You may wish to find out more about the confidentiality of health care records.
  9. It’s common to feel nervous before taking an HIV test but the fact is that if you do have HIV the best possible thing is to get onto treatment as soon as possible. Terrence Higgins Trust offer advice on what to expect from testing, what your results mean and what happens next. You can find more information on the Terrence Higgins Trust website.
  10. Local organisations are also getting involved in HIV Testing Week. For specialist support contact:
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services are the lead provider of Sexual Health Services in Derby, they provide a confidential and non-judgemental service for anyone wishing to know about relationships, sexuality, sex, contraception and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. More information is available on the Your Sexual Health Matters website or by calling 0800 323 3383
  • Derbyshire LGBT+ provides support for the LGBT community. Free condoms and rapid HIV testing is also available. Visit their website or call 01332 207704
  • Well for Life provides advice and support for people living with long term conditions, including HIV. For more information, including rapid HIV testing, call 01332 204040.
  • It starts with me tools to help you decide when to test and which test to use. It features a clinic finder, a Condom ‘Fits Me’ tool and links to free home HIV self-sampling kits.