This booklet is about sexual transmission of HIV and HIV testing.

It includes information on:

  • How HIV risk is more than just about condoms.
  • How and when different HIV tests can be used.
  • What test results mean, especially in relation to the time since your last potential risk.
  • The importance of making your own decisions about your sexual health.

This guide is written for people who want to have sex.

Condoms are excellent protection against HIV. But people still become HIV positive each year for complex reasons. The main reason condoms don’t always work is because they are not used every time.

This booklet doesn’t talk about safer sex. Instead, it focuses on different risks for transmission that are more than just whether or not you use a condom.

But sex is complicated. Even when being careful, some people will still become HIV positive.

If this happens, there is little to gain from looking back. Treatment, when used correctly, is very effective.

If you do find you are HIV positive, i-Base and other organisations can help. 

If you are positive it does not have to stop you leading a full, active and happy life. 

Changes to the third edition

Since the previous edition there have been major advances in relation to HIV prevention.

Firstly, the PARTNER study has reported no linked HIV transmissions when viral load was undetectable. This was after couples had sex more than 58,000 without condoms.

Secondly, PrEP is now established as a highly effective way to protect against HIV. PrEP is when an HIV negative person uses HIV drugs to prevent infection. When used correctly PrEP reduces the risk of transmission by more than 95%.

These sections have been rewritten based on this latest evidence.

Last updated: 1 June 2016.