Getting tested for HIV or receiving a diagnosis is nothing to be ashamed or fearful of. Old fashioned ideas about living with HIV can stop you taking control of your health. HIV is now easy to treat, easy to prevent and easy to test regularly for.
Lots of men worry about taking an HIV test because they think they might have the virus. If you have HIV, the sooner you are tested, the sooner you start effective treatment. Effective treatment allows you to live a healthy life and means you can’t pass the virus on.
Some men think they don’t need to test because they don’t have lots of hook-ups or think their HIV status is the same as their last test, even if that test was a long time ago. But it is really important to test – at least once a year. Testing is quick, free and confidential.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. ‘Immunodeficiency’ refers to the weakening of the immune system by the virus. HIV is a long term health condition which is now very easy to manage.
HIV treatment can stop the virus spreading, and if used early enough, can reverse damage to the immune system. Find out more about HIV on NHS Inform.
HIV treatment reduces viral load — the amount of HIV in your body — to undetectable levels. With an undetectable level of HIV, you can’t pass on the virus to someone else. This is known as Undetectable = Untransmissable (U=U). Effective treatment is a great HIV prevention tool, it saves lives and prevents HIV transmission. This means your sexual partners are protected.
Testing regularly for HIV is a really important part of taking control of your sexual health. If your test is positive, the earlier your treatment can start and the better the outcome for your health. There’s lots of support available for you if you test positive. You can live a long and healthy life. Find out about living with HIV here.
Not testing regularly means, it can be possible for you to have the HIV virus and not know it. This means the virus can be damaging to your body and you might unknowingly pass it on to others.
If your test is negative PrEP can support your sexual health and protect you from HIV. If taken correctly, it is highly effective at stopping HIV being passed on.
For some men it’s recommended to test every 12 months, for other men it’s every 3 months. This can depend on what kind of sex you like to have, how many men you usually have sex with or what you know about the HIV status of the man or men you have sex with. Use the When to Test tool on this page to find out more about the HIV testing guidance.
Planning ahead and taking control will give you the benefit of knowing you'll be taking care of your sexual health.