It is very easy to get an HIV test throughout the UK. You can:
a. Ask your GP. An HIV test involves having blood taken, or sometimes even a small finger prick. Most General Practitioner doctors (GPs) are able to arrange to have blood taken and sent to a laboratory for an HIV test, and to get the result back within two to three days. There is no need for a lengthy discussion about HIV testing.
b. Go to a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic and ask for a test. You don’t need a referral from your GP and you can go to a clinic anywhere in London or the UK. Sexual health clinics will not share your testing information with other NHS services. Most London clinics offer rapid HIV testing which provide a result in minutes. Those clinics will take a follow-up blood specimen to investigate any immediate results that need more information.
c. Use an HIV testing service in a community setting. These are provided by NHS outreach clinics and some HIV charities, including Do It London teams in gay venues across London. These tests are free, confidential and safe. You will be given appropriate advice and referred into other NHS services if necessary.
d. Request a self-sampling kit online. There are two main self-sampling HIV test services available online. These are:
– Test.HIV – the national self-sampling service
– SHL – London’s new sexual health e-service.
You will receive a free self-sampling kit in the post and be asked to take a blood or saliva specimen yourself, then post it back to a laboratory. After a few days you will get your result by text message or phone call.
e. Purchase a home-testing kit. This allows you to perform an HIV test on yourself and get the result immediately. If this result is “reactive” it indicates that you may have HIV, but you will need to visit a sexual health service to confirm the result and get medical advice.