Guidance

HIV: testing

PHE recommends individuals at risk should test for HIV regularly, including gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and black African men and women.

Recommendations

Early diagnosis of HIV infection enables better treatment outcomes and reduces the risk of transmitting the infection to others. Have an HIV test if you think you may have been at risk.

Everybody

Everybody who is offered an HIV test by their healthcare professional is advised to accept the test so that if an HIV diagnosis is made, effective treatment can be started.

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are advised to test for HIV and other STIs at least annually and every 3 months if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.

Black African men and women

Black African men and women are advised to have an HIV test and a regular HIV and STI screen if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.

You can reduce your risk of getting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by:

  • always using a condom correctly and consistently, and until all partners have had a sexual health screen
  • reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding overlapping sexual relationships

Unprotected sex with partners believed to be of the same HIV status (serosorting) is unsafe. For the HIV positive person, there is a high risk of acquiring other STIs and hepatitis. For the HIV negative person, there is a high risk of acquiring HIV infection as well as of acquiring STIs and hepatitis.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and British HIV Association (BHIVA) have published guidelines on HIV testing:

How to get an HIV test

It is very easy to get an HIV test throughout the UK. You can:

Members of the public can find more information and advice on NHS Choices.

HIV testing in England

HIV testing in England: reports

Information for people thinking about buying a self-test kit for HIV, or having an HIV test

HIV in the UK reports

PHE produce a variety of different types of HIV data tables and reports about HIV on particular aspects of HIV care in the UK.

Resources

Addressing late HIV diagnosis through screening and testing: an evidence summary and accompanying Leaders’ Briefing, April 2014.

Evidence and resources to commission expanded HIV testing in priority medical services in high prevalence areas, April 2012.

Time to test for HIV: expanded healthcare and community HIV testing in England, September 2011.

Published 1 January 2014
Last updated 15 November 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated PHE recommendations about HIV testing.
  2. Added link to the ‘HIV testing in England: 2016 report’.
  3. First published.