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HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. The virus damages the cells of the immune system, making people with HIV more likely to get ill. It can be passed on from person to person through blood, semen, fluids in the vagina and anus, and breast milk. AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It describes a set of symptoms and illnesses that people with HIV can develop when their immune system has become to weak to fight off illness or infection. It cannot be passed from one person to another. Developments in HIV treatment mean that people who are HIV positive are less likely to develop AIDS than they were in the past. With the right treatment, it is possible for people with HIV to live a long and healthy life.
Many people live with HIV for years without realising that they are infected. However, most people who contract HIV will experience flu-like symptoms a few weeks after contracting the virus. Look out for:
Experiencing these symptoms does not automatically mean that you have HIV, but it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are concerned. Although HIV can be symptomless for up to 10 years, it is still active during this time, causing damage to the immune system. Eventually, the infected person will experience symptoms that reflect their weakened immune system. These may include:
By getting a diagnosis early, you can get treatment to help prevent the damage to your immune system.
The test works by detecting a protein in the blood that is present in HIV cells and in the antibodies your body produces to fight HIV. A positive result indicates HIV.
The test kit is very reliable. It is over 99% accurate, meaning that the chances of getting the wrong result are less than 1 in 1,000. Very rarely, it may give a false positive, showing that a person has HIV when in fact they don’t. If you are unsure, you can confirm your result by taking another test.
Note that there is a ‘testing window’ of 4 weeks for HIV blood tests. That means that the test will reflect your HIV status 4 weeks ago. It may not pick up HIV if you were in contact with the virus less than 4 weeks before taking the blood sample.
The HIV Home Test Kit is easy to use. With clean hands, you will need to take a blood sample from a fingertip by using the lancet provided. Fill the container with blood, and send it to our partner laboratory for analysis, using the secure packaging and labels included within the kit. You will get a result within a few days.
You will be contacted with your results 2 days after the lab receives your blood sample.
Getting a positive result in your HIV test can be a shock. The first step is to talk to your GP, who will be able to give you a check-up, answer any questions you may have, and refer you to the HIV services you need to stay healthy. There are also helplines and HIV organisations which can offer support. Contact the Terence Higgins Trust for more information.
No, our HIV Home Test Kits come in plain, discreet packaging. Nobody will be able to tell what’s inside the package when it is delivered to your door.
Yes, the test is 100% confidential.
In most jobs, it’s entirely up to you whether or not to disclose your HIV status. Most employers are not allowed to ask if you are HIV positive, and if you do choose to inform them, they cannot discriminate against you because of your status. They must keep your HIV status confidential and provide reasonable adjustments to help you if appropriate.
However, if you are a healthcare worker who risks exposing patients to the virus (for example, if you are a surgeon or a dentist), you must have an HIV test when you apply. You must also tell your employer if you subsequently get a positive HIV result, so that adjustments can be made to help you do your job safely.
Anyone can contract HIV, regardless of their sex, ethnic origin or sexuality. However, certain groups are at higher risk of contracting HIV than others:
People in these groups are advised to take regular HIV tests if they are sexually active and are not using condoms.
Men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of HIV for a number of reasons. The following factors help to explain why men who have sex with men are more likely to contract HIV:
Men who have sex with men are a high-risk group for infection with HIV and are advised to take an HIV test (like this Home Test Kit) regularly (at least once a year) if they are having unprotected sex. However, the test kit is suitable for anyone who may have contracted HIV, or who wants to find out their HIV status.
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