Whilst this site is primarily aimed at people who have already been diagnosed with HIV, your partners, family members or friends may also want to know more about testing.
Free and confidential HIV testing is available from a range of services in Sheffield. These services include:
located at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital – Call 0114 276 6928 to make an appointment for testing.
located at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital (E-Floor) – Call 0114 271 3560 to make an appointment for testing.
Call 0114 305 4000 to make an appointment for testing.
You may also be able to access HIV testing from your local GP surgery.
There are significant benefits to being tested if you think you may have put yourself at risk of HIV infection. If you are HIV positive and remain undiagnosed, the virus may damage your immune system and compromise your future treatment options, so testing early means your health can be monitored carefully and anti-HIV drug treatment started when necessary. It may also influence the decisions you and your partner(s) may make about the type of sex that you have.
Testing for HIV involves screening a sample of blood (or sometimes saliva or urine) for antibodies to HIV infection. Antibodies are what the body produces to fight off infection. If you are worried about HIV and think you may have put yourself at risk, contact one of the services above to arrange getting tested. It may take between 6-12 weeks to develop antibodies to HIV following infection so you may be asked to return for a follow-up test 3 months later to ensure you receive an accurate result.
At the clinic where you have your test, a trained health professional will take a sample of blood from your arm or finger after explaining what will happen and how you will receive your results. In Sheffield results are usually available from most services 7-10 days after the test is taken. Quicker results are available through Sheffield GUM which offers ‘Point of Care’ testing, with results from a finger prick blood spot available within 20 minutes; same day results on routine blood samples are also available on Tuesdays at Sheffield GUM. HIV test results are confidential and will not be shared with anyone without your permission.
If you and your partner have different HIV statuses (i.e. one HIV positive and one HIV negative), it is suggested that the partner who is HIV negative has a check up once a year, or three months after engaging in unprotected sex or if a condom breaks/splits or comes off during sex. It is also important to be aware of the availability of PEP which, if taken soon enough, can prevent HIV infection from occurring following unprotected sex.
If you’re worried about HIV and are considering testing, make a call to one of the services above and talk about your anxieties and concerns. Obviously the decision to test is your choice but testing early means your mind can be put at rest if the result is negative or your health and wellbeing can be monitored if the result is positive.