What is it?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a serious STI that weakens the body's defence system (immune system). If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to AIDS and early death.

What are the symptoms?

HIV does not have symptoms that are easily identified

  • Shortly after infection some people may experience flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, swollen glands, and sore throat -this is called 'sero-conversion illness'
  • Some people with HIV may appear to be well and healthy for many years and have no symptoms

How could I get it?

HIV can be transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact. HIV can also be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and birth or by breastfeeding. HIV can also be transmitted when the blood of a person with HIV enters the body of an uninfected person - such as through needle sharing.

How do I get tested?

Visit your GP to take a test, or find your nearest sexual health clinic using our services page.

Can HIV be cured?

No, there is no cure for HIV. There is, however, very effective medication that can prevent people becoming ill or dying from an HIV-related illness. If a person with HIV is diagnosed and treated as early as possible they can live as long and as healthy a life as any other person. That's why it is important to test for HIV if you are sexually active.

How can I prevent it?

Condoms are the best protection from STIs such as HIV. Learn how to use them correctly and consistently, and how to remove them after sex without spilling the contents.

If you are not sure if you or your sexual partner has HIV, you should get tested before you have unprotected sex (sex without condoms). Remember that sex without a condom can put you or your partner at risk of other infections or pregnancy.

If you inject drugs do not share needles - you can get clean needles through the needle exchange.

Condoms are the only form of contraception to protect you against STIs. You can get FREE condoms from any easy access point for condoms


You Choose

NHS Direct
0845 4647

Sex - Worth Talking About
0800 28 29 30

 Lambeth Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Partnership
©2011 NHS Lambeth. Terms & Conditions