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HIV Testing

Get tested ... it's just a little prick!

When you’re getting ready for going away on holiday what are you packing? Condoms? And we bet you didn’t know that British is best either? Condoms brought abroad may be of a lesser quality. They can be affected by heat and humidity... So make sure they’re on your essentials list to pack.

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It might not be your first thought while getting ready to travel. However, if you think you might have sex while you’re away, wearing a condom is the best way to avoid bringing back any unwanted holiday souvenirs!

 

Some countries have a higher rate of people living with HIV than others. These include:

  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Brazil
  • Kenya
  • Jamaica
  • South Africa
  • India
  • the Dominican Republic.

A large study in the UK found that Overall, 5% of UK-born adults infected abroad reported sex with a commercial sex worker. This is compared to 1% of UK-born adults infected in the UK. Contact with a commercial sex worker was most frequently reported by men infected in Thailand (11%).  Over half of all new HIV positive results nationally occur among men who have sex with men.

PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a tablet people take once a day before coming into contact with HIV. This is to reduce their risk of HIV infection. Head to The Hub at Treliske or your nearest sexual health clinic to ask about PrEP.

Cornwall doesn’t have a large number of people living with HIV, but of those cases 48% are diagnosed late. That makes treating the infection more difficult. HIV is more responsive if caught early on, and treatment early on can prevent onward transmission. The early signs of HIV can be confused with a cold. Because it’s not easy to spot you could unknowingly pass it on to other sexual partners.

Six weeks after getting HIV you’ll get a sore throat, fever and a rash over the body. It is highly infectious without treatment. Because HIV weakens the immune system someone who is infected may experience:

  • weight loss
  • night sweats
  • thrush in the mouth
  • an increase in herpes or cold sore outbreaks
  • swollen glands in the groin, neck or armpit
  • long-lasting diarrhoea
  • tiredness

Mortality within a year of HIV diagnosis is ten times higher for late diagnosed individuals than those diagnosed promptly.

PPE is short for post-exposure prophylaxis. It is medication for after coming into contact with HIV to reduce risk of HIV infection. PEP must be started within 72 hours after HIV exposure. Head to The Hub a Treliske or your nearest sexual health clinic to ask about PEP.

So our advice is to always use a condom and be like Bob! Go and get a quick and painless test, after all…it’s only a little prick!

You can get your test at a GP surgery, or use the new online service to find screening near you. Or if you’re eligible – you can get an online test posted to your door through the test.hiv website.

And just in case you do get caught short while abroad, here’s how to say condom in a few different languages…

French préservatif (pres-er-va-tif)
Spanish condón (con-dOn)
Thai thungyāng (tuāng yāng)
Polish prezerwatywa (pres-er-vaty-va)
Hindi nirōdha (Ni-ro-d[h])
Turkish prezervatif (pres-er-va-tif)

You can order a FREE HIV sampling kit at home - a simple finger prick blood test to take in the privacy of your own home.

How does it work?

You take a sample of blood from a finger prick, then return the self-taken sample to a laboratory for testing. You will need to wait up to 3-5 days for the results. You will then be referred to your chosen sexual health clinic for a follow up.

What is the difference between home sampling and home testing?

The home sampling kit is sent away to be tested, there are no immediate results like with a home testing kit.

Who is this aimed at?

HIV testing is important in helping reducing the spread of HIV. For those living with HIV, who maybe undiagnosed, testing is important to access timely treatment.

Men who have sex with men

Men who have sex with men are advised to have an HIV and STI screen at least annually. This should be increased to every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

Black African men and women

Black African men and women are advised to have an HIV test and a regular HIV and STI screen if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

So how do I get hold of one?

You can order your free testing kit online on the test.hiv website

If you need help and advice in Cornwall there are a number of places you can go.

Brook runs sexual health services in Cornwall and you can find more information on the Sexual Health Cornwall website. You can book home testing kits, or face to face appointments. Call them on 0300 30 30 714.

The Eddystone Trust website supports anyone across the South West affected by HIV. 

The Terence Higgins Trust is a national organisation which provides support and help to those living with HIV. It helps them to stay healthy and live well, and has a number of services available.