When to get tested for HIV: risks and symptoms
What are the facts and what can you do to prevent and test for it?
The news that Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen is HIV positive has once again raised the profile of the virus in the media but what are the facts and what can you do to prevent and test for it? His story highlights that if caught early, treatment can be highly effective in controlling the condition and in his case the virus is now undetectable in his blood. This has the added advantage of making him much less infectious to others.
A leading UK charity estimates that around 100,000 people in the UK are HIV positive, double the number who had been diagnosed a decade ago and underlining the need to be tested on a regular basis. Of these 20 - 25% are probably completely unaware that they are carrying the virus.
HIV can affect young and old alike, with around 900 UK sufferers aged 15 or below according to The National Aids Trust.
HIV can be transmitted in a number of ways, through sharing of blood and other bodily fluids, predominantly through unprotected sexual relations with a number of partners or through the sharing of needles by those who use illicit drugs. It can also be passed between mother and her baby in the womb.
Fortunately, with appropriate drug treatment, people with HIV who are diagnosed early are now regularly living healthy and productive lives into old age and on average 10 years longer than those who are late in discovering that they have contracted the virus.
HIV can sometimes take years to show itself in any physical form and patients frequently have no symptoms at all (early symptoms may be flu-like) which is why it is better to test yourself if you are at all worried that you might have been exposed.
The stigma of having the test is no longer an issue and there is a strong argument that anybody who has had unprotected sex should be tested, as the number of positive heterosexuals is now higher in the UK than homosexuals.
The previous anxieties about being tested affecting life insurance also no longer apply.
The Medichecks HIV test is affordable, easy to use, reliable, discreet and can be done quickly at home with results available in 24 hours.
You can find out more about the Medichecks HIV test and order your HIV test today.