Testing + Treatment
How can I get tested?
You can have a test for HIV at an MOT clinic, Sexual Health Clinic or at your own GP. Alternatively you can order a free postal testing kit from THT Scotland.
The advantages of going to an MOT or sexual health clinic are that they have more in-depth knowledge and experience about HIV and other infections. The MOT service can also offer rapid HIV tests, where provisional results are available within 20 minutes. The advantages of going to your GP are that it is usually a more familiar environment and you might feel more comfortable talking to your own doctor. Wherever you go you should be able to ask questions about HIV testing.
The rapid HIV test offered by MOT involves taking a small sample of blood from a fingerprick. The results are then available after 20 minutes. If the result is “reactive”, a further blood test will be required and the result of this will be available within 24 hours.
Traditional testing for HIV is done by a taking blood from your arm. Only 5ml of blood is needed. Most test results take 7-14 days but some sexual health clinics are able to offer same day testing. Depending on your risk they might give you the results over the phone or they might bring you back to discuss the results with you face-to-face.
What if the result is positive?
The tests are very accurate but they will ask you for another blood sample to be sure. You will be put in touch with the HIV specialists who will arrange to see you very quickly and the MOT team can also provide advice and support.
What if the result is negative?
If you’ve had unprotected sex in the last three months then we can’t be sure that you don’t have HIV. You are in what is called the “window period”. This is because it can take your body up to three months to make HIV antibodies which is what the test is looking for. So a negative test doesn’t always mean you don’t have HIV. You should have another test three months after the last time you had unprotected sex to be sure. The test is very accurate and a negative test three months after a risk means you don’t have HIV.
You should have a test once a year but you can have it more often if you need to or want to.
Is there treatment?
There is no cure for HIV, but once it is diagnosed you can start treatment that will help you live a longer, healthier life. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the better the treatment options.
To find our local clinics go to Find Services
Read more about starting treatment in our booklet
For more information on HIV in Scotland please visit the HIV Wake Up website.