What samples can be used?

Blood

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?

10 days

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.

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.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV infection occurs through the transfer of infected bodily fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles and/or syringes (usually for drug use) with someone who is infected, or through transfusions of HIV infected blood. Catching HIV through oral sex (either giving or receiving) is also possible, but very rare. You can find out more about HIV transmission on our website.

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 around the world request HIV certification as part of their visa application process. We can provide you with an HIV certificate for work, travel, migration and other purposes following your confidential screen with Better2Know.

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.

What else should I get tested for?

As well as individual HIV testing, Better2Know also provides an assortment of more comprehensive STI screens. If you are concerned about a recent sexual encounter, Better2Know’s Platinum Screen will give you the peace of mind you need regarding your sexual health. As well as HIV, this popular testing option will also detect Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Herpes I/II, Trichomonas, Gardnerella, Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma.

Further Reading

Please take the time to watch our HIV Consent Video, the link to which is listed at the bottom of the page. You can also find out more about HIV testing consent, as well as European statistics about HIV, via the pages displayed below.

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.