HIV testing and support

What is HIV?

HIV is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the body's immune system.

HIV is most commonly passed on through vaginal or anal sex without a condom. It can also be passed on during childbirth, or transmitted when injecting drug users share needles. In rare cases, HIV can be transmitted through transfusion of infected blood.

HIV is preventable and treatable, but it is not curable. The earlier that someone with HIV gets a diagnosis, the more likely it is that further problems can be prevented.

Condoms and lubricant are a simple and very effective way of preventing HIV infection. You can get free condoms from Brook Cornwall, as well as some GP surgeries and pharmacies.

Read more about HIV.

Testing for HIV

HIV can’t be tested until four weeks after exposure to the virus. The test does not detect the virus itself but the antibodies that your body has developed to fight it.

If you think you are at risk of HIV it is important to take a test as soon as possible.

Testing for HIV involves taking a small sample of blood for analysis. The test is either sent away to a laboratory and results come back in a few days, or same-day tests can give an instant result. It is also possible to test a saliva sample or to test blood taken from pricking the finger with a needle.

Anyone can get tested for HIV at Brook Cornwall.

If you are over 16, you can order a free HIV test kit to complete at home.

Help and support with HIV

The Eddystone Trust logo, tagline: HIV and Sexual Health Services

The Eddystone Trust

Residents of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can access services, information, advice and support with HIV from the Eddystone Trust.

An independent sexual health charity based in the South West, UK. The Eddystone Trust challenges the stigma, discrimination and misinformation associated with HIV and sexual health. They offer a range of services, including:

  • Non-judgemental advice
  • Free testing and condoms
  • Support for people living with HIV
  • Training for anyone who wants to know more about sexual health.

Other resources for people living with HIV

  • ViiV Healthcare: Developed with people living with HIV (PLHIV) for PLHIV, the ViiV Healthcare website aims to provide trusted information based on current research and insight from HIV communities, including individuals who wish to share their stories.
    Visit the ViiV Healthcare website.
  • Terrence Higgins Trust: The UKs leading HIV charity, Terrence Higgins Trust provide information, support and resources for people living with HIV and those newly diagnosed.
    Visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website.
  • CHIVA: CHIVA’s mission is to ensure that children, young people and families living with HIV become healthier, happier and more in control of their own futures.
    Visit the CHIVA website.
  • Positively UK: Positively UK provides peer-led support, advocacy and information to everyone living with HIV to effectively manage any aspect of their diagnosis, care and life with HIV.
    Visit the Positively UK website.