1. Testing, diagnosis and prevention
It might seem odd to have a section on testing, diagnosis and prevention. After all, these are Standards for people living with HIV. So, for us, we’ve already been tested, diagnosed and are probably already being treated for HIV. But as people living with HIV, we might have some particular concerns about prevention. We might also have partners who are not living with HIV, so we need to be aware of, and involved in, prevention strategies.
HIV testing and diagnosis are crucial to stopping the HIV epidemic.
1a. Testing and diagnosis
Routine HIV testing should be offered in a wide range of ways and should be encouraged. It is especially important in communities that have higher rates of HIV. Here, GPs should offer HIV tests. Testing should be offered when you’re new to your GP, but also if you haven’t had an HIV test in the past year. Routine HIV testing should also be offered in sexual health clinics, other hospital clinics or hospital departments such as A&E. HIV testing should also be offered more widely in the community. This might include home testingthis is where you collect a sample of blood, or of moisture from your mouth, and test it. You perform the whole test yourself. After a few minutes, you read and interpret your own test result. If the result is reactive (positive), then this will need to be confirmed by a further test in an HIV clinic. or self-samplingthis is where you collect a small blood sample yourself and send it off for analysis. You should get a result in a few days.. All these testing situations are listed in the 2018 Standards.
If you test HIV positive, you should be given clear information about what to do next, and where to get treatment and support. Information about what to do and where to go must be in easy-to-read language. As for any other infectious disease, testing should also be offered to your sexual partners, and your children, if there is the possibility that they might have been born with HIV.