About the service
Safeguarding underpins our approach to delivering services, working with service users and the recruitment of staff, sessional workers and volunteers.
- Free. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your immigration status is, you will not have to pay for this service. You need to be 16 years of age or older.
- Fast. From when you first arrive to you leaving with an HIV test result normally takes less than half an hour.
- Flexible. You can make an appointment for a test by calling us 01484 469 691 or 01422 341 764, we can offer appointments during the day or out of hours. When we run drop-in sessions there is no need to make an appointment, these sessions are publicised and noted below, if there is nothing noted then there are no drop-in sessions scheduled so please call us for an appointment.
- Confidential. We will not tell anyone else that you have used the service. We will not share any information about you unless you ask us to.
- Convenient. The service is available in all of Kirklees and Calderdale.
HIV rapid testing drop-in and outreach sessions will be held:
- Monday 23rd April 2018, 6 pm to 8 pm at our Huddersfield Office - Marten House, Fern Street East, St Andrew's Road, Huddersfield HD1 6SB, press the buzzer for First Floor meeting rooms. We are running an Access All Areas Clinic, so as well as a rapid HIV test you can have a full sexual health screening, and a chat with someone around GMT and alcohol if wanted. It is completely confidential and non judgmental, no appointment needed just drop in.
- Tuesday 24th April 2018, 2 pm to 4 pm at the Empire Adult Cinema Huddersfield.
- Wednesday 25th April 2018, 2 pm to 4 pm at the Plastic Ivy Sauna Dewsbury.
- Wednesday 25th April 2018, 6 pm to 8 pm at Todmorden Community Resource Centre, Lever Street, Todmorden OL14 5QF. A full sexual health screening will also be available, no appointment needed just drop in.
- Monday 30th April 2018, 6 pm to 8 pm at our Halifax Office - VAC, Hall Street, Halifax HX1 5AY, press buzzer no. 8 for Brunswick. A full sexual health screening also available if wanted. No appointment needed just drop in.
What happens when I come in?
When you arrive you will be asked a few questions about yourself and why you think you may need an HIV test. Our worker will explain the process as we want to make sure that you know what having an HIV test means for you, so there are trained workers to talk to you about the test you are about to have, and to answer any questions about HIV and the HIV test you might have. If after the discussion with the worker you still want to go ahead with the test, you will be asked to give a pin-prick sample of blood to our worker. We can give you your results after 5 minutes.
The tests give a reactive or non-reactive result and very rarely an invalid result. If it is invalid we would need to do the test again and this can be done straightaway. If you receive a reactive test result, our worker will arrange for you to have a further confirmatory test and help get you an appointment at the sexual Health clinic. A confirmatory test is needed in the rare event that the test has found something else in your blood. Workers will help you access local emotional and practical support services, if you need them to.
If you receive a negative result, we can talk to you about why you put yourself at risk and how you might want to manage your risk taking in the future. We can also give you free condoms and water-based lube.
When and Where
We undertake testing in various venues across Kirklees and Calderdale and these are published in advance in the venues. We also provide testing at community events. You can call us and make an appointment for a test and we can do tests out of regular office hours if needed.
If you have put yourself at risk of HIV infection within the last 72 hours, then go to your local GUM clinic or A & E and request PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis), see below for more information. If you manage to start PEP treatment within 72 hours, it may help prevent HIV infection if you complete the course of treatment. For more information on PEP see our resources page and you can print off and take the PEP slip with you so you can be discreet at reception. Don't second guess whether you should need PEP or put it off, every hour lapsed makes PEP less effective.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
HIV infects and gradually destroys an infected person's immune system. This means your body is less able to fight off normal infections and germs and make any infections or illnesses harder to treat and take you longer to get better. With anti-HIV medication taken properly, HIV can be controlled, you can be less infectious and you can live longer.
Regular testing will ensure HIV infection is caught early and then is easier to control.
How is HIV not passed on?
There is no risk of HIV being passed on from normal social contact with someone who is HIV positive. This includes: touching a person with HIV, kissing, sharing towels or clothes, sharing cups, plates or glasses with someone with HIV.
How can I prevent HIV infection after exposure?
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP/ sometimes called PEPSE) is available from A&E or the GUM/Sexual Health clinic. PEP is a course of anti-HIV medication which should be taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV but the sooner it is taken the better.
What is PEP?
PEP stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis.
Post – After.
Exposure - A situation where HIV has a chance to get into someone’s body.
Prophylaxis – A combination of drugs that may stop infection happening.
Will PEP prevent me from developing HIV infection?
It is thought that PEP can offer some protection; however, it isn’t guaranteed that it will stop you from becoming HIV positive.
Why is there no guarantee that it will work?
There are lots of reasons why there is no guarantee. The main one is around ethics. To get a guarantee, the treatment will have to be clinically tested in humans by infecting people with HIV and then giving them PEP; some of the group would have to be given a placebo and the other half would be given PEP to assess how effective the medication is in preventing HIV infection. Some people will be infected with HIV as a result. We know that PEP reduces HIV infection but cannot say by how much.
What Drugs will I be prescribed?
You will be given a group of anti HIV drugs called antiretrovirals.
How do Antiretroviral Drugs Work?
They work on different parts of the HIV virus and immune system cells to stop HIV multiplying.
How soon after I have been at risk should I start taking PEP and how long do I have to take it?
You should start as soon as possible, and you must start within 72 hours (3 days) of when you think your exposure to HIV occurred. If you start PEP two hours after exposure, it will be more effective than 40 hours after exposure. You will need to complete the course of treatment which last 28 days.
What are the side effects of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) drugs?
The most common side effects from the tablets are feeling sick and having diarrhoea, you can get medication to help with this so ask the doctor or nurse about this. Some people lose their appetite. You will need your blood monitored because very occasionally the tablets can affect your kidneys.
Some drugs can change the way blood works in your body. This can make any medical problems you have with your blood worse. If you already have a medical problem with your blood you should tell the doctor or nurse this when you first get the drugs. You will be closely monitored to make sure that the tablets don’t cause any problems with your blood.
Are there any drugs that I am currently taking that will interact with PEP?
Many drugs can interact with PEP. For this reason, you should tell the doctor who prescribes PEP for you, about any prescription, over the counter, alternative medication or recreational drugs that you are currently taking.
What tests will I need?
If you take PEP you will need some blood tests before you start the course, then every week for the four weeks of treatment and then after 3 and 6 months. These are explained more fully below:
- Blood taken straight away to check that you are not already HIV positive and to check that you don’t have Hepatitis C
- Blood taken weekly during the PEP course to check that your blood is working properly and that there are no signs of HIV infection developing
- Blood taken at three months and six months to check that HIV infection has not developed
How can I protect myself and my partners in the future?
A condom and lubricant, used properly, is the most effective way of preventing HIV transmission during sex.
What is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)?
PrEP is a new treatment which is still undergoing trials to see if it is effective with reducing HIV infection rates. Essentially the same drugs are used as in PEP but is taken before exposure may occur. So far the studies are promising, however it is not currently recommended as a HIV prevention method.
What HIV test do we use?
You can find out if you have become infected with HIV by having a blood test done. When your body is infected with HIV it will produce antibodies which fight the infection.The test that we use is looking for HIV antibodies in your blood and the virus itself.
HIV-1 and HIV-2 are the two main types of HIV.
HIV-1 is the most widespread type worldwide.
HIV-2 is less prevalent and less pathogenic (disease-causing) and is found principally in Western Africa.
The test is a third generation point of care HIV test used by many Sexual Health Centres in England, and will show if the virus is HIV-1 or HIV-2.
When should I have an HIV test?
It takes 12 weeks (3 months) for the antibodies to HIV to show up in blood. So you need to wait for 12 weeks from when you were at risk of being infected for the test to give you an accurate result. This is called the window period.
If you are tested within the window period and have a negative result, we will advise you to have another test when 12 weeks after exposure has passed. This will ensure that no infection is missed.
If the HIV test comes back reactive/finding something in your blood, we will arrange for a confirmatory test at a GUM clinic as soon as possible. This is because the test may have been triggered off by some other infection or some medication.
Regular testing for HIV is essential to ensure you know your HIV status and you are able to stay HIV negative. We recommend you test for HIV at least every year or more often, if you have taken a risk.
Things to think about before having an HIV test
Having an HIV test can have a big impact on you whether you have a positive or negative result. Only you can decide if having an HIV test is right for you. You should not be pressured into having a test by other people and we certainly won’t pressure you.
Below are some of the reasons not to have an HIV test and some of the reasons to have an HIV test. Everyone is different and you might have reasons of your own.
Reasons to test
- You will know your HIV status; you won’t be worried about what you think your HIV status is
- A negative result may give you peace of mind• A positive result will enable you to access medication and specialist support
- If you are HIV positive, the sooner you are diagnosed the more treatment options you will have
- A positive result will help you to avoid infecting others with HIV in the future
- You will be able to make decisions about your future
- To help you plan the type of sex you want with your partner
- To make decisions about your pregnancy, delivery and post-natal care
Reasons not to test
- A positive result can mean a lot of stress and impact on your day to day life
- People may treat you differently if they know you are HIV positive
- You may be restricted on travelling or working abroad
- You may not be in a place to deal with a positive result emotionally
How will I be tested for HIV?
You will have a chat with a trained worker and when you are aware of what the test involves and agree to it, we will do the test. You will have the opportunity to discuss risk and how to minimise risk in the future. The test for HIV we use will need a finger prick of blood. No needles are seen. The test takes 20 minutes for the result to come back.
What do the results mean?
If the test doesn't find any HIV or HIV antibodies after 12 weeks and you haven't been exposed to the virus within 12 weeks, you are negative. This means you didn't have HIV 12 weeks ago. This does not mean that you are immune.
If the test comes back reactive this means that the test has been triggered by something in your blood. There is a slim chance that it may not be HIV so we will need to arrange a confirmatory test at the GUM clinic. You can pass the virus on to other people through having sex without a condom and sharing needles.
How reliable is the test?
If the test comes back negative and you have not been at risk of HIV infection within 12 weeks, we are confident that you are HIV negative.
If the test comes back reactive, we need to arrange a confirmatory test at the GUM clinic. There is a slim chance that the test may have been triggered off by something that is not HIV.
This is a result for you and does not tell you anybody else’s status; don’t assume that your partner has the same status.
Can I get a certificate saying I'm HIV negative?
No, the test can only say that you were HIV negative 12 weeks ago. We are unable to supply a certificate as we don't know if you have been exposed to HIV within 12 weeks and the result is already out of date so may not be a reliable indicator of your current HIV status today.
Things to think about after having a negative HIV test result
Getting a negative result doesn’t mean that you are immune from HIV. You might want to think about the times you have been uncomfortable with the risks you have taken and how you might deal with these in the future. This is a result for you and does not tell you anybody else’s status; don’t assume that your partner has the same status.
The result tells you what your HIV status was 12 weeks ago if you have had unprotected sex or shared injecting equipment in the last 12 weeks you may want to take another test.
Things to think about after having a positive HIV test result
This is a result for you and does not tell you anybody else’s status; don’t assume that your partner has the same status.
A positive result could mean that you face discrimination from some people if they know about your status.
If you are HIV positive you can pass HIV onto other people through unprotected sex, sharing injecting equipment and through breast feeding.
You may want to make changes in your life. Remember that you may be in shock and might not be thinking very clearly. Wait till things settle down until you make any major decisions.
Similarly, you might want to tell lots of people about being positive. It's important you have someone you can talk to, but at this stage, try only to talk to people you really trust. You can always tell people later but you can't ever untell them.