What does a HIV test involve?

Testing for HIV is straightforward, highly accurate and is the only way to know if you are infected. If you have never tested for HIV you should consider getting a test.

Also consider a test if you’ve been tested before, but in the last three – six months:

  • you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner
  • you’ve shared injecting equipment

Because HIV can be passed through sexual intercourse, if you are thinking about having sex without a condom you should consider testing both you and your partner before doing so.

You can be tested for HIV at your local sexual health service and by your GP. Many sexual health charities also offer free testing. A full list of testing centres are available here.

Tests at public sexual health clinics are completely free and confidential. A HIV test involves taking a small amount of blood from you, usually from your arm or your finger. You may get the result straight away or you may have to wait for them to send the sample to a laboratory for testing. Either way they will let you know your result and what this means. If you have any questions just ask the person taking the test or giving the result. Check out your testing options here.

If you contract HIV, your body reacts to the infection and produces ‘antibodies’. The test looks to see if you have these HIV antibodies in your blood. If you do have HIV antibodies this means you have HIV.