Why I Don't Need an HIV Test

As part of National HIV Testing Week, LDC is encouraging all of our patients to get tested! Symptoms or not, high risk or low risk - everyone means everyone! It's thought that 1 in 5 HIV positive people in the UK don't know they have the virus - a shocking statistic! These people unaware of their positive HIV status are at risk of passing the virus on to others. The only way to prevent further HIV transmission, is for everyone to get tested, and everyone to know their HIV status.
However, we humans are great at wriggling our way out of things, and here are 10 of the (least) convincing arguments our doctors have heard in our clinics, from patients reluctant to get an HIV test, and the reactions of our doctors:


1) I Don't Like Needles

Ohh are you? We didn't realise - we've never met anyone who doesn't like needles before. Unfortunately, HIV testing always requires a blood sample, unlike other STI tests such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, which can both run on swab or urine samples.
But you know, there'll be a lot more needles involved if you actually catch HIV, with the regular blood tests necessary to monitor the progression of the disease: CD4 count, HIV viral load, general wellbeing tests etc. Trust us, it's just one small needle, and it's so quick you won't even notice.
cowboy with lollipop
If you're good and sit still, the doctor will give you a lollypop afterwards


2) I Don't Want To Know

Yes you do.

We don't like to dwell on the negatives, here at LDC, but this excuse calls for a serious reality check. HIV is no longer considered a death sentence: those who get diagnosed promptly, can go on to live a long and reasonably healthy life, with very little difference in life expectancy between those living with HIV in the UK, and those without.

People diagnosed with HIV late (several years after initial infection) are ten times more likely to die in the first year post-diagnosis (3.8%), compared to just a 0.35% risk for those are diagnosed promptly. Late diagnosis also means that a HIV-positive person has remained unaware of their HIV for years, increasing the risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus onto others.


3) I'm Not At Risk of HIV - I'm Straight!

This is one of the most ridiculous excuses for not getting tested for HIV, yet we still hear it shockingly often! Although HIV used to be known as Gay-Related-Immmune-Deficiency (GRID), that was over 30 years ago, so perhaps it's time you got up-to-date with your news, and read an article on HIV from this century. It's thought that over half of people living with HIV in the UK were infected through heterosexual sex. 

HIV is still slightly more prominent in the gay community, with 40% of new HIV infections in 2014 in men who have sex with men (MSM), but in reality, anyone sexually active or sharing needles is at-risk of HIV, and therefore should be regularly tested.


4) I've Never Slept With Someone Who Is HIV Positive

How sure are you? Would you put money on it? Didn't think so.

We're afraid to say, that people sometimes lie. Either that, or they aren't aware of their HIV status, like the 20% of HIV positive people who are unaware. 


5) I'm Fit & Healthy - I Don't Feel Like I Have HIV

It's thought that 20% of HIV-positive people not develop any symptoms when initially infected by the virus (seroconversion stage). Even those who do experience symptoms in this stage, initial HIV symptoms are very non-specific, similar to flu-like symptoms. Easy to dismiss, as the body will seemingly recover from this stage itself, as symptoms subside after a couple of weeks.

After this initial seroconversion stage, it may be up to 10 years until primary HIV symptoms are noticed, such as night sweats and persistently swollen glands. That's 10 years HIV disease progression, 10 years of missed annual HIV tests, 10 years of potentially infecting other people


6) I've Only Ever Had Sex With a Few People...

Unfortunately, you can get HIV from the first person you've ever slept with, if you're unlucky enough. As soon as you become sexually active, it's recommended to get a thorough sexual health screen annually (to include HIV), or every time you change sexual partners. If you consider yourself mature enough to be sexually active, you're mature enough to get an STI screen.


7) I'm Too Busy, I Haven't Got Time To Get Tested

We appreciate our patients are very busy - too busy to ensure a sit-and-wait appointment at the local NHS sexual health clinic. That's why LDC offers short-notice, convenient 15-minute appointments 7 days a week, often from 8am until 8pm. So whether it's at 7:30pm on a Thursday evening, or 8:15am before work, or on a Sunday afternoon, everybody can find a spare 15-minutes in their week to pop to any of our 8 convenient central London clinics and get tested.

But if you can find the time to have sex, you can find the time to get a sexual health screen once a year!


8) I Hear The Test is Really Inaccurate Anyway

Actually the test is very accurate, provided you get it done at the appropriate time. At LDC, we offer two different HIV tests. Our standard HIV test is recommended from 1 month after unprotected sex. This HIV test is available by itself, or as part of our standard HIV screen. Results for both of these tests are available in just 4 hours!

Alternatively, we offer a an early detection screen, available from 2 weeks post unprotected sex. This screening profile includes std tests for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis B and C, with results available in just 3 days.


9) Where Do I Even Get Tested?

Lets start with your GP, then any Sexual Health or GUM clinic - then any other doctor's or hospital appointment could also facilitate HIV testing, if you ask! You know, you can even get tested A&E, while you're already waiting there to get that sprained ankle sorted. Practically anywhere you run into a doctor, an HIV test can be arranged. 


10) I'm a Virgin

You've never taken part in any sexual activity? No interaction with the bodily fluids of any other person? Honesty is the best policy in GP consultations - everything stays 100% confidential, between you and your GP. So you're sure, no sex?

So what about contact with needles, do you have any tattoos for example? There's still a small risk of HIV transmission through non-sterile needles. No?

OK fine, maybe you don't need a test... But best to still get one, just to be on the safe side!

There is no acceptable excuse for not getting tested for HIV - it's part and parcel of being a responsible, sexually active adult. Book a GP Appointment today, get results in 4 hours. Simple.