HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, and weakens your ability to fight infections and disease. It is most commonly caught by having sex without a condom. It can also be passed on by sharing infected needles and other injecting equipment, and from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Treatment for HIV is now better than ever. An HIV test can give you better health, a longer life and peace of mind. People who have the virus can live as long as those without the virus if diagnosed early and they start treatment.
If you think you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should seek medical advice and have a test as soon as recommended. Emergency anti-HIV medication called PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) may stop you becoming infected, but treatment must be started within three days of coming into contact with the virus.
Please remember that if your test is positive, your GP may have to inform any active sexual partners of your status, where you both have the same GP, and unprotected sex is occurring, even if you do not give consent. This is because of the risks to both you and your partner from HIV. If you are thinking of having the test discuss all the issues with your GP before going ahead.
For information about sexual health and sexual health services in Herefordshire please follow the link.
For more information and advice visit the following websites:
- Terrence Higgins Trust – provides information, support and advice on HIV and sexual health; call the helpline on 0808 802 1221, open 10am to 8pm Monday to Friday
- Switchboard: the LGBT+ helpline – provides an information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people; call the helpline on 0300 330 0630, open 10am to 10pm daily.
- Brook – the young people's sexual health charity for under-25s provides advice support and information about your nearest sexual health clinic.