Your questions about getting tested
Most clinics will have health advisors that you can talk to, or ask the doctor or nurse when they initially have a one to one with you. They will also have condoms and lube available for you to take away. Advisors are also available to give advice on safer sex and condom use.
Here's some of the most common questions we get asked via email or through our helpline on 0845 3 30 30 30.
Current guidelines suggest that gay and bisexual men should have an HIV test at least once every 12 months, but everyone is different and some people might need more than one.
There are currently no guidelines about how often to test for other sexually transmitted infections, but it stands to reason that the more partners you have, the more you should test.
You should always go for a test as soon as you notice any symptoms, even if they apparently clear up.
You should always go for a test if you are in a new relationship and want to stop using condoms (continue to use condoms for three months, and then both go for a full sexual health screen, just to be sure).
You should always go for a test if you think that you have been exposed to any sexually transmitted infection.
Rapid (Same day) HIV Testing
Tests for HIV in this way are done by taking a finger prick of blood, and using a test that shows the results the same day, usually within half an hour.
Some tests might pick up infections within about 4 weeks of possible exposure to HIV, but any negative result must be confirmed by taking another test after three months to be sure.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, you might also have been exposed to other infections, and even if your HIV test is negative, you should go for a full sexual health screen.
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation offer Same Day Testing in Manchester at the Community Resource Centre every Thursday from 4pm-6pm. Click here to read more
Community organisations often work with local GUM services to take sexual health clinics into non-clinical settings to target at risk populations. Examples include taking full sexual health screens into gay and bisexual men’s saunas, or Pride events.
With such a variety of ways to get tested, it really has never been easier to take control of your sexual health. In the end the message is simple “Know Your Status: Get Tested!”
If you're unsure whether there are outreach clinics in your area call the LGF Helpline on 0845 3 30 30 30.
There is an Outreach Clinic operating in Manchester between a number of venues usually every Monday. Click here to read more
Sexual Health Clinics provide services for the treatment and care of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and advice on sexual health concerns. The services are provided by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and health advisers.
Services offered usually include:
- Sexual health screening, advice and treatments.
- You can get tested for gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, as well as treatments for genital and anal warts, genital herpes, non-specific genital infections and pubic lice.
- HIV screening, advice and treatments.
- Contraception information and provision of treatment.
- Impotence treatment (not all clinics offer this; please check by contacting them first).
- Genital dermatology.
- Safer sex advice.
The tests might include:
- Urine sample.
- Swabs for the throat and arse (and cock if you have symptoms).
- A blood sample.
- An examination of the genitals.
Although the tests might be a little uncomfortable, they’re not painful, and any stories about a ‘metal umbrella’ are simply not true!
You should not pee for at least an hour before your appointment.
If you have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis B then you will be offered a course of injections. It is in your best interests to be vaccinated against Hep B, just in case you ever come into contact with it.
Results are usually given out no later than two weeks of you attending the clinic, and the way that they are given out varies from clinic to clinic.
You will be advised as to the method, whether this be by text, over the phone, via messaging service or face to face.
Results are only ever given to you, and they are all fully confidential.
If an infection is diagnosed straight away, then the treatment will be given out there and then. It is important that you complete any treatment given, even if the symptoms go away. Sometimes treatments are given as injections.
You will be given the best treatment for your own circumstances, and you should follow any instructions given to you by clinic staff.
All treatments from Sexual Health Clinics are free.
(Post Exposure Prophylaxis)
If you think that you have been exposed to HIV due to having unprotected sex, or a condom breaking, there is a course of medication that you can take which may prevent you becoming HIV positive.
PEP is a four week course of anti HIV medication that must be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure.
The course of treatment can have side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and severe headaches, which can make it necessary to take time of work.
It should not be thought of as a ‘morning after pill’ for HIV.
PEP is not guaranteed to work in 100% of cases, but the sooner you can get access to the treatment following the possible exposure, the more likely it is to work.
You can only access PEP up to a maximum of 72 hours following possible exposure, and is not likely to be effective after this time.
The course of treatment is available from sexual health clinics, and also from A&E departments. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, you should speak to a sexual health clinic as soon as possible.