Do I have HIV or need to test?

Q: Do I have HIV?

A: The only way for you to know this is for you to take an HIV test.

We can provide information about risk, but unless your risk is zero, which is sometimes the case, you need to test to find out.

Testing is easy and free or cheap.

If you are worried that you have been at risk, like millions of other people, just take a test.

Q: Do I need an HIV test?

A: The only way you can know your HIV status is by taking an HIV test.

If you are sexually active, then it is better for you and your partner to know your HIV status.

HIV testing should be a routine part of looking after your sexual health. As is repeating the test every 3-12 months – or as appropriate, depending on your level of sexual activity and risk. This is important in case you are exposed to HIV in the future.

In the UK and many other countries, at least one-in-ten people living with HIV are not yet diagnosed.

Q: What is my risk of HIV?

A: We get many questions about different risks and the likelihood of having caught HIV.

General risks are not very helpful for individual circumstances for two reasons.

  1. If you have had any risk that is, for example, 1 in 1000, you still need to test to know your result. This remains true whether the risk was much higher (1 in 10) or much lower (1 in 20,000).
  2. Because a general risk of 1 in 1000 (sometimes quoted for unprotected insertive sex) is meaningless without considering other factors.

You need to know the chance that your partner is HIV positive, whether they are on treatment, if so, what is their viral load? Some things you won’t be able to test for, like genetics.

Even these few factors could change the same risk of 1 in 1000 to as high as 1 in 10 or as low as 1 in 20,000 – or even to zero.

Q: Can I ask my partner to test to know my risk?

A: No. If you want to know your HIV status you need to take your own test.

You cannot interpret your HIV status based on another persons’ results.

You also have no right to ask another person to take an HIV test.

This is about your sexual health. It is your responsibility to test. You cannot impose your worries about your health on another person.

Last updated: 1 June 2021.