What samples can be used?
How long until I get my results?
1 working day after your sample arrives at our certified laboratory
Where is my nearest private clinic?
How soon after a sexual encounter can I get tested?
Which Better2Know screens include HIV testing?
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus that attacks the immune system by reducing the number of CD4 cells that fend off foreign infections. This results in an inability to fight illnesses that a healthy body would be able to deal with naturally.
If left untreated, an HIV infection will lead to AIDS, though it may be over a decade before the immune system becomes so severely damaged that it can no longer defend itself. The speed of a person’s HIV progression varies depending on factors such as age and health.
What is AIDS?
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a set of symptoms caused by an HIV infection. AIDS is a condition in which the immune system begins to fail, causing the development of certain defining symptoms and illnesses which, if left untreated, are likely to prove fatal.
How is HIV transmitted?
The HIV virus is transmitted through the transfer of infected bodily fluids. This can occur during sex. This can include:
- Vaginal fluid
- Breast milk.
HIV cannot be passed on by saliva, faeces (poo), urine, sweat or tears.
The virus can be spread by sexual and non-sexual transmission.
Sexual transmission includes:
- Vaginal sex
- Oral sex
- Anal sex
You may be at higher risk of getting HIV from sex if:
- There is any blood present, for instance during a woman's period, or if one or more partner has another STI. With vaginal sex, the virus can be caught through a break or tear in the lining of the cervix, womb or uterus, or cuts or sores on the penis, urethra, or foreskin.
- You have anal sex. This carries a slightly higher risk as the membrane of the anus is thinner and more delicate, leaving the area more prone to tearing. For both vaginal and anal sex, the receptive partner is at a greater risk than the giving partner.
Oral sex is considered a lower risk sexual activity where HIV is concerned. This is because the lining of the mouth is tougher than the vagina or anus and contains enzymes in the saliva that can break down the virus. However, HIV can still be transmitted via oral sex if sexual fluids come into contact with cuts or ulcers in the mouth, or if infected blood from the mouth encounters any genital sores.
Non-sexual transmission includes:
- Sharing needles or syringes with an infected person
- Transfusions of contaminated blood.
You may be at a higher risk of HIV if:
- You have had a blood transfusion in a country where blood supplies are not routinely screened. Blood transfusions pose an elevated risk for transmitting HIV.
- You have had a tattoo with unsterilized equipment. There is a possibility of contracting the virus if unsterilized tattoo equipment has been used on someone who is HIV positive.
- You have shared needles for recreational drug use. This is an extremely high-risk activity with regards to many bloodborne diseases. Needles are an effective way for infected blood to enter another person’s blood stream.
- New mothers can also pass HIV on to their baby during pregnancy, delivery or through breastfeeding. However, medication is available which can reduce the risk of transmission if the mother knows her status early enough in the pregnancy. Healthcare workers are also at risk of HIV infection, as they may come into contact with infected blood.
Early detection and intervention can be crucial in controlling an HIV infection, and testing is the only way to be certain of your HIV status. So, keep yourself and your partner safe by getting tested with Better2Know.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Not everyone with HIV will experience symptoms in the initial stage of their infection. However, when symptoms are present in the first four weeks, they often include fever, sore throat, upset stomach, body rash, tiredness, swollen glands and joint or muscle pain. Such symptoms occur as your immune system attempts to counteract the virus through the production of HIV antibodies – a process referred to as seroconversion.
Once this phase is complete, many people will start to feel better and symptoms can remain dormant for up to 15 years. However, the virus will still be active during this time, infecting new cells and damaging your immune system.
If your infection goes untreated, it will reach a stage where you are more susceptible to serious infections, as well as bacterial and fungal diseases, that the body would otherwise be able to deal with. Symptoms during this time can include weight loss, fever, chronic diarrhoea, mouth and skin problems, night sweats, a persistent cough and other, regular illnesses.
What types of HIV testing are available?
Better2Know conducts four types of HIV testing across Europe, detecting infection at various periods of incubation:
- The 10-Day HIV RNA PCR Test provides confidential HIV testing after an incubation period of only 10 days. This test is included as part of Better2Know’s Early Detection Screen, which also looks for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections.
- The Better2Know 5th Generation HIV Test is suitable at least 28 days after an incident of concern. As well as identifying an HIV infection, this highly accurate test will ascertain which type of HIV, if any, triggered the positive result.
- Our 4th generation, 28-Day HIV DUO Test is also available for those whose exposure occurred at least four weeks ago. This popular testing option is referred to as a DUO test as it combines testing for the p24 antigen with an antibody test for HIV I and HIV II, detecting both the virus itself and the body’s reaction to it.
- Better2Know’s Instant HIV Test looks for both types of HIV, as well as the p24 antigen, and is appropriate just 26 days after potential exposure to the virus. This popular testing option provides results within 30 minutes of collecting your sample and is available in selected European locations. To find out more, please contact our team on the telephone number displayed above.
What happens if I do not get tested and treated?
The HIV virus will attack the immune system by reducing the number of CD4 cells in the body that fend off foreign illnesses and diseases. This results in an inability to get rid of infections that a healthy body would ordinarily be able to defend against. If left untreated, an HIV infection will lead to AIDS.
Furthermore, babies born to HIV infected women may become infected before or during childbirth, or through breastfeeding.
Do I need a certificate?
Many countries request evidence of a person’s HIV status in accordance with their visa entry requirements. This is the case with several nations in the Middle East, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as many former Soviet states, including Russia. The list of countries where such certification is required alters regularly, so it is always advisable to be aware of the respective nation’s regulations prior to travelling.
In addition, many individuals will need HIV certification for professional reasons. These may include oil, gas and offshore workers, certain security personnel and sports people, such as boxers.
Better2Know delivers fast, accurate HIV testing, with certification made available swiftly and efficiently to those who need it. For companies or organisations that would like testing for multiple employees, corporate billing can also be arranged. If this applies to you, please contact us.
How is HIV treated?
With early identification, intervention and appropriate treatment, HIV is no longer the life-threatening virus it once was. That is why Better2Know provides testing for HIV from as early as ten days after any potential exposure.
If you believe you have been exposed to HIV, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medication may stop you becoming infected. PEP is only recommended following high-risk exposure, and treatment must be started within 72 hours of coming into contact with the virus in order for it to be effective.
If you are diagnosed with HIV, you will have regular blood tests to monitor the progress of the infection before starting treatment. HIV is treated with antiretroviral medication, which stop the virus replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself and prevent further damage.
If you are HIV positive, there are also apps and web pages that can help you manage and monitor your condition, so that you can take control of the virus and maintain your personal health and lifestyle.
How can I book my test?
You can book an HIV test or screen with Better2Know today by calling our sexual health advisory team on the number above. Our dedicated Patient Services experts will help you select the right testing option before processing your appointment at a clinic of your choice.
If you would prefer to book online, you can do so by clicking the Book Now button on this page.