HIV Facts and Free HIV Test Kits

HIV Facts and Free HIV Test Kits

Understanding the facts of HIV: 

HIV = is a virus that attacks the cells in your immune system which then compromises your ability to combat everyday infections and diseases. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) refers to a range of potentially life-threatening infections that occur when the immune system is severely weakened by the HIV virus, with the right treatment now its rare things lead to this stage. 

Transmitting Facts

  • AIDS itself is not transmissible, but the HIV virus however is transmissible.
  • There’s no current cure for HIV, but highly effective drug treatments enable most people with the virus to live long and healthy lives.
  • The key is early diagnosis and effective treatments help prevent AIDS-related illnesses, allowing individuals to lead near-normal lifes.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of HIV

  • Following HIV infection, a short flu-like illness may occur 2 to 6 weeks later, lasting a week or two.
  • Subsequently, HIV might not exhibit symptoms for several years, even as it damages the immune system, so don’t think just because you have no symptoms you are fine. Play it safe and test regularly 
  • Many infected individuals are unaware of their HIV status, making testing essential.

Getting Tested and Causes

  • HIV resides in body fluids like semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk, but doesn’t survive outside the body for long.
  • Primary modes of transmission include unprotected anal or vaginal sex and sharing needles or syringes.
  • Diagnosis through blood or saliva tests is crucial; early diagnosis facilitates prompt treatment initiation and better health outcomes.

Living with HIV and Treatment

  • Antiretroviral medicines allow the immune system to recover and prevent further damage.
  • Consistent medication intake is vital; a combination of medicines minimizes the development of drug resistance.
  • Maintaining an undetectable viral load through treatment significantly reduces the risk of transmission.

Preventing HIV

  • Preventative measures like condom use, PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and maintaining an undetectable viral load through treatment help minimize transmission risks.

HIV and AIDS

HIV weakens your immune system

AIDS refers to a collection of illnesses resulting from a virus weakening the immune system. An AIDS diagnosis is only possible in HIV-positive individuals. Late-Stage HIV – Thanks to modern treatments, few individuals in the UK develop serious HIV-related illnesses. The term “AIDS” is infrequently used by doctors, who instead refer to late-stage or advanced HIV.

Undetectable Viral Load

Research indicates that individuals on effective treatment with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV. Also known as U=U undetectable = Untransmisable.

HIV Free Test Kits

Looking for accessible HIV test kits?

You might qualify for free kits available through freetesting.hiv These home test kits are provided at no cost to residents aged 16 and above in specific local authorities funding this initiative. Rapid self-tests are available for individuals aged 18 and over.

Do you Qualify for a Free HIV Test Kit?

Free HIV test kits cater to:

1. Gay and Bisexual Men

2. Men Who Have Sex with Men

3. Women and Men from Black African Communities Living in the UK

4. Trans Women

Availability Across Local Authorities

The availability of these free kits varies across local authorities. While some regions offer this service to all residents, others may tailor their offerings to specific populations based on the local scenario.

Eligible Areas for Free Test Kits at time of this post are as follows;

  • Bedford
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Bury
  • Camden
  • Central Bedfordshire
  • County Durham
  • Darlington
  • Gateshead
  • Hartlepool
  • Hertfordshire
  • Islington
  • Leicester
  • Manchester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Milton Keynes
  • Norfolk
  • North Tyneside
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire
  • Portsmouth
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Rochdale
  • Rotherham

Can’t get a test kit see the alternative testing options

If you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the free test kits, you can still get tested by reaching out to your local sexual health clinic. For those preferring not to visit a clinic and ineligible for free kits, the Terrence Higgins Trust offers test kits at a reasonable price of £15.00 click here to go to the order page.

Don’t let barriers stop you from getting tested. Explore your options and ensure your health and well-being. 

It can be scary getting tested but getting poorly due to HIV or passing it on can become a lot more scary than taking the test, if you need support and someone to talk to your local sexual health clinic will assist and give you accurate information. Another good point of contact to visit for accurate facts is the Terrance Higgins Trust.

Useful Links;

This blog post was written by the AromasUK team using key information from the Terrence Higgins Trust.

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