Also known as…
Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
How is it passed on?
HIV can be passed on through oral, anal and vaginal sex, blood to blood contact, and from mother to child during birth or breast feeding.
Sometimes flu-like symptoms when someone is first infected within the first few weeks but people can live for years without showing any symptoms, HIV attacks the immune system so eventually someone with HIV will be unable to fight off simple infections.
What are the long term effects?
Previously people living with HIV have suffered from a mulititude of health problems, however new drugs used to treat HIV mean that many go on to have longer, healthier lives providing they are tested early and respond well to their treatment. Unfortunately there is still no cure for HIV. People with HIV will also have to take care not to pass the infection on to a sexual partner.
Can you get rid of it?
There is no cure for HIV but people can take medication to slow down how fast the immune system is destroyed. This medication suits some people very well and they can live for years and years. Other people react badly to the medication and their health may get worse quite quickly, however modern medicine now has many different combinations of treatment for patients to try and find out what works for them.
If you would like a full STI screen for all STIs you can visit a GUM clinics – to find one try our service finder
Some GUM clinics offer a fast test HIV finger prick test that provides the results within 20 minutes. Please click on the above links to see if this service is offered by your local GUM.