HIV

There is currently no cure or vaccine for HIV. However, with early diagnosis, HIV is now a treatable and manageable medical condition. People on effective treatment have undetectable levels of HIV meaning they cannot pass it on to others.

U=U

Undetectable = Untransmittable.

Greater Manchester has an ambition to end all new cases of HIV in a generation. Find more information on the sorthiv website where you can find information on preventing HIV, HIV testing and managing HIV.

HIV prevention

Condoms

Condoms are the number one way of protecting yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, viral hepatitis and chlamydia. Many people use condoms alongside PrEP.

You can buy condoms and other supplies such as lube from the Freedoms Shop which is run by the NHS. Condoms can also be bought in supermarkets, local pharmacies or online and are available free for specific groups:

  • The LGBT Foundation can provide free condoms for the LGBT community
  • Black Health Agency (BHA) for Equality can provide free condoms to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic residents of Greater Manchester aged 18 and over. Please visit their website ordering portal
  • People collecting medication from the SHINE Sexual Health Service Lance Burn Health Centre, Churchill Way, Salford can also request condoms

PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis)

If you think you may have been exposed to HIV by having:

  • had unprotected sex
  • had sex with someone with HIV with a detectable viral load and the condom broke
  • used or been injured with an HIV-infected needle

then PEP may be of use. By taking PEP, ideally within 24 hours of the risk and no later than 72 hours, you may be able to prevent an HIV infection. However, PEP is not always appropriate, and a doctor can advise if PEP is suitable for you based on the level of risk.

You can get PEP from:

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)

PrEP is a medication to prevent someone who is HIV negative from becoming HIV positive during condomless sex. It is for people who are very high risk of becoming HIV positive. To find out more about PrEP see the Terrence Higgins Trust website or contact SHINE Sexual Health Service

HIV testing

Getting tested for HIV means that, if you are infected with the virus, you can receive treatment and care before the infection causes too much damage to your body and health. Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV is associated with near-normal life expectancy.

It is really important to get tested regularly for HIV if you are sexually active and when you change sexual partners because HIV often has no symptoms.

HIV tests are available from a range of services.

  • SHINE Sexual Health Service
  • Your GP Practice
  • Community testing is provided by The PaSH Partnership
  • Your local drugs agencies, if you are an injecting drug user (when the service user or the service feel appropriate)
  • An antenatal clinic if you are pregnant

You can order a HIV-only screening kit from the Freetesting website.

You can order an STI screening test kit, which includes an HIV test, to be sent to your home address from the SHINE Sexual Health Service website.

HIV support services

You can get support around HIV from the following services:

  • GMPaSH – Passionate about Sexual Health is a partnership of BHA for Equality, George House trust and LGBT Foundation to deliver STI and HIV prevention and support. Their website has lots of information on sexual health, HIV, PREP, links to services and much more.
  • George House Trust provide free and confidential support, advice and advocacy services for people living with HIV. Call 0161 274 4499 or email talk@ght.org.uk.
  • LGBT Foundation provide advice, support and resources for LGBT people to take control of their sexual health and wellbeing. Call 0345 3 30 30 30.
  • BHA For Equality provide free and confidential sexual health services for black and minority communities. Call 0845 450 4247.
  • National Sexual Health helpline provides free and confidential advice for all from the NHS. Call 0300 123 7123.
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