About the Test
Confidential, rapid testing at Positive Life
If you would like a HIV test, call us to make an appointment. Our testing is free and confidential.
We use oral fluid HIV tests which give a result in 20 minutes.
Oral fluid tests detect HIV antibodies 4 weeks after possible exposure in 95% of people and at 12 weeks in 99.97% of people. Therefore, testing can give a good indication of your status at 4 weeks, but we will encourage you to come in for a test at, or after, 12 weeks for the most accurate result.
If you have any questions about HIV testing please call the HIV Helpline 0800 137 437
Deciding about the Test
The main ways in which HIV is transmitted are:
- Through unprotected anal or vaginal sex (ie) penetrative sex without the protection of a condom or femidom.
- Through blood to blood contact (ie) through the sharing of needles amongst injecting drug users.
- From mother to baby through the course of pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding.
If you would like more information or would like to talk to someone about your situation, phone the HIV and Sexual Health Helpline on 0800 137 437
Going for an HIV Test
In Northern Ireland you can attend any Department of Genito Urinary Medicine. The main clinics are located at:
- The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
- The Causeway Hospital, Coleraine
- Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry
- Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh
- Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry
Telephone our Freephone Confidential Helpline on 0800 137 437 for clinic opening times. Attending a GUM Clinic means you can also be screened for the full range of sexually transmitted infections. Going to a GUM Clinic does not mean that you have to have a test. It is your decision. Going to a clinic can be stressful. People often find that it is helpful to bring a friend with them for support. Choose someone you can trust. If you decide to have a test it may be difficult to keep the result from them. The result may show that you have HIV. Would you want this person to know? Think about how your test result may affect your relationship with the person.
When you first go to the GUM Clinic you will be asked by the receptionist to fill out a form. Do not be concerned about this. The information you give will be treated as strictly confidential as all GUM Clinics are bound by a duty to maintain high practical standards of confidentiality. You will then see a health advisor who will give you information about the test and may talk to you about the window period to check that you understand it. They may also ask you to describe your sexual and drug taking history. They will be able to talk about screening for other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and any concerns you may have.
The test itself requires a blood sample to be taken and the sample then goes to a laboratory to be tested. Samples are sent with initials and the clinic number only. No name is recorded and the Clinic will inform you when your result will be available. The standard test takes 2-3 days for the result to reach the Clinic. Positive results are prioritised and patients are contacted as soon as the result is available.
HIV tests are highly accurate. If the test is positive the result is confirmed by re-testing the blood sample. Negative test results are accurate so long as they are not carried out during the ‘window period’ – the time between potential exposure to HIV infection and the point when the test will give an accurate result.
If the test is HIV negative, staff at the Clinic will talk to you about remaining HIV negative in the future.
If the result is HIV positive, support and help will be available for you at the clinic. You will be introduced to a Social Worker and offered support and assistance for emotional and practical concerns. You will be given a further appointment at the Clinic to see the Consultant and undergo further tests to check on how the virus is affecting your health.