National HIV Testing Week 2024 – HIV Life Insurance
Top UK HIV charities including Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and Elton John AIDS Foundation are working hard towards a goal of zero new HIV cases diagnosed by 2030. However, there are still thousands of people in the UK currently living with HIV and around 1 in 16 don’t know they have the virus*.
National HIV Testing Week happens in the UK on the first week of February every year. During this week, anyone in England aged 16 or over can order a completely free HIV test.
The only way to know for certain whether you have HIV is to be tested, which then allows you to get the correct treatment. With proper treatment and early intervention, people with HIV can live full and healthy lives. The virus can also become undetectable, which means it can’t be passed on to other people.
If you are living with HIV, you may worry that financial protection for your family or home won’t be available or will cost far too much. With the help of a HIV life insurance specialist it is possible to find suitable and affordable life cover to protect the people you care about the most.
*According to HIV statistics published by National AIDS Trust
60-Second Summary – National HIV Testing Week 2024
National HIV Testing Week is a campaign in the UK aimed at raising awareness about HIV testing, with the goal of zero new HIV cases by 2030.
- During National HIV Testing Week, individuals aged 16 or older can order free HIV tests to encourage early diagnosis and access to treatment.
- Routine HIV tests can help detect the virus early, ensuring successful treatment and less cases of HIV transmission in the UK.
- If you have HIV and are worried about how this affects life insurance, you can get free advice from a HIV life insurance specialist. Affordable cover can be available for people with HIV, provided they speak to the right insurance companies.
What is National HIV Testing Week?
National HIV Testing Week is a week used by HIV charities in the UK to spread awareness of the importance of HIV testing. While people can live full and health lives now with HIV, early diagnosis and intervention are key.
Though most people who take a HIV test will be negative, those who are HIV positive will have access to free help and support. This can be through the NHS or through HIV charities and support groups.
This video from It Starts with Me (partnered with Terrence Higgins Trust) explains more about National HIV Testing Week and the importance of HIV tests.
When is National HIV Testing Week UK?
National HIV Testing Week 2024 is taking place from Monday 5th February to Sunday 11th February. This year marks the 10th anniversary of National HIV Testing Week and HIV and AIDs charities are highlighting how important it still is to be testing for HIV.
You can live for months or years with no HIV symptoms, and the sooner you are diagnosed the better as you can begin treatment. If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Many people are also totally unaware that they have been exposed to HIV which is why routine testing can also be beneficial.
There are multiple ways to become infected with HIV including:
- Sexual contact
- Use of injected drugs
- Unsterilised tattoo or piercing needles
- Contact with infected blood
- Vertical transmission (passed from mother to child during pregnancy)
Where can I test for HIV in the UK?
There are various places in the UK where you can receive a HIV test including:
- Sexual health clinics
- Clinics run by charities like Terrence Higgins Trust
- Certain GP surgeries
- Private health clinics
- Antenatal clinics (for pregnant patients)
- Some young peoples clinics or contraception clinics
Most of the time these tests will be completely free. You can also order a HIV test online to self-test which will either:
- Be a home test where you can see the results yourself within minutes
- You post your test sample to a lab who then contacts you with the results
You can use the Terrence Higgins Trust ‘Free online test finder’ to see where you can get a free test in your local area: Free HIV Online Test Finder
During National HIV Testing Week, you can order a free NHS HIV test kit here: Free Testing.HIV website
Are HIV tests accurate in the UK?
HIV tests in the UK are generally very accurate, with false positive results only occurring in less than 1 in 1,000 cases.
The most accurate form of HIV test will be a blood test, but will only show positive results one month or longer after infection. Certain tests may need to be repeated over the course of several months to ensure a negative result is definitely accurate.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, you should contact a doctor or health professional who can prescribe emergency HIV medication. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may be able to prevent a HIV infection if it is taken within 72 hours of exposure to HIV.
Source: NHS – Diagnosis of HIV and AIDS
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Will HIV show up in a normal blood test UK?
If your doctor or GP orders a blood test for a specific reason, they may not be looking for or testing for HIV. However, many UK Accident & Emergency departments will now use a routine blood screening called a blood borne virus (BBV) test which can identify undiagnosed HIV or Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C.
This can be a lifesaving event for many people who aren’t aware that they have HIV or Hepatitis and can then be diagnosed the correct treatment.
An NHS blog tells the story of Anne, who was diagnosed with HIV in her 50s after a visit to A&E. She had been in a committed relationship for 10 years, never used drugs and it was believed she may have contracted HIV through an unsterilised tattoo needle.
Though she had felt generally unwell, it had never occurred to her that she may have HIV and this helps to highlight just how important HIV testing is.
Frequently asked questions about HIV tests
Is the 6 month HIV window period outdated?
The ‘window period’ refers to the amount of time between being infected with HIV and a test displaying a positive result. It is possible to have HIV during this period that is infectious while still testing negative for HIV.
In the UK, it’s recommended that the window period for HIV testing is 6 weeks and by this time 99% of infections should be able to be detected.
How accurate is the HIV test at 4 weeks?
It can take time for antibodies to develop which would indicate that HIV is present in your body. Though some HIV tests will show up positive at 4 weeks after infection, not all will.
You can test for HIV after 4 weeks, but this will only detect 95% of HIV infections. If you test negative at 4 weeks, it is still advised to test again regularly until the 6 month ‘window period’ is over.
Can you have HIV for 20 years and not know?
Many people can live with HIV for years and be unaware, especially as there may be no symptoms or minimal symptoms to begin with. Some symptoms of HIV such as tiredness or diarrhoea may be misdiagnosed or brushed off.
This can make it entirely possible to live for 10 years or more without realising you have HIV.
Does a HIV test affect life insurance?
If you apply for life insurance, some insurance providers might want you to take a HIV test if they think you have a high risk for HIV. This can be for reasons like travelling or living abroad, history of drug use or even your occupation (e.g. if you are a medical professional).
This isn’t something to worry about and a negative result won’t have any affect on your life insurance options. A positive result may affect the prices and cover types available to you which is where it can be helpful to speak to a medical life insurance expert for advice.
Can I get life insurance with HIV?
Having HIV doesn’t need to stop you from buying life insurance to protect your mortgage or family. Underwriting for HIV life insurance has improved meaning that it’s possible to get suitable cover at a fair price.
The key is to make sure you are speaking to an experienced specialist who understands how HIV affects life insurance and which insurers will be the best options for you. If you need free and friendly advice about HIV and life insurance, you can call our experts on 0800 009 6559 or click here.