HIV / Aids

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Viral Infections
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HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus which suppresses the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections, diseases and other illnesses. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, otherwise known as Aids, is the name used to describe the advanced stage of the HIV infection, where the immune system has been damaged due to the virus.

HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. This means that it can be passed on by sharing needles or syringes or having unprotected sex. The virus can also be passed on through oral sex, however, this is much less common than anal and vaginal intercourse.

Although there is currently no cure for HIV and Aids, there are a number of Antiretroviral medications available which help the immune system to repair itself and stop the virus from replicating within the body.

If you are worried that you might have HIV, you can get tested at your local Sexual Health Clinic or GP surgery.

Key facts:

  • Most people with HIV who receive treatment will not go on to develop AIDS.
  • HIV can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact or sharing infected needles.
  • HIV can affect people of any sexuality.
  • Some people experience flu-like symptoms a few weeks after becoming infected. However, as there are no obvious signs or symptoms, we recommend you get tested immediately if you feel you may be at risk.
  • You can only be certain you are HIV-positive if you get tested.
  • Patients usually have a normal life expectancy if they receive an early diagnosis and treatment.

Testing and Treatments:

  • A blood sample will be taken to test for the virus.
  • Antiretroviral medication will be prescribed following further blood tests.
  • At the moment, there is no cure for infection.
  • Most people with HIV benefit from treatment and live longer and have better health than if they had not accessed treatment.
  • If you think you have been in recent (last 72 hours) sexual contact with an infected person, you should visit your local clinic or A&E to access PEPSE (Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV following Sexual Exposure) treatment.

For a free postal HIV testing kits please visit you will need to fill in an online form to request your free HIV testing kit.