Frequently Asked Questions
Someone living with a HIV+ diagnosis whose condition is being well managed is no more or less at risk of contracting Coronavirus than a someone who does not have HIV.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which, over time, damages the human immune system. The immune system is the body’s defence against infectious organisms and infections. In most cases, the immune system keeps people healthy and prevents infections, but sometimes problems with the immune system can lead to illness and infection.
HIV is transmitted in very specific ways. The most common are:
through unprotected penetrative sex where one partner is HIV+, from mother-to-baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, and through sharing infected equipment for preparing and injecting drugs.
PEP is a course of drugs that can be taken if you have exposed to HIV. It has to be taken within 72 hours of exposure, so if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you should visit an Accident and Emergency department or a Genito Urinary Clinic where the risk can be assessed and PEP prescribed if appropriate.
To find out more about PEP, PrEP or any other enquiry, please contact our free, confidential helpline on 0800 137 437 or call Positive Life on 02890 249 268 and speak to a member of the team.
Other useful links:
NI Direct Advice & Guidance regarding Coronavirus
Relate NI | Covid 19 Relationship Support
Common Myths about HIV
HIV does not discriminate.
Anyone who has unprotected sex or shares infected needles is at risk of HIV transmission.
It is true that gay men are disproportionately affected by HIV but there are as many heterosexual people living with HIV in Northern Ireland.
It is thought that approximately 20% of people living with HIV do not know their status.
The only way to be sure is to get tested.
Although there isn’t a cure for HIV, diagnosis and treatments have come a long way since the 1980s and is now so advanced that it is no longer the death sentence it was.
In Northern Ireland people living with HIV can have a near-normal life expectancy and live fulfilled and healthy and lives.
Early diagnosis is particularly crucial as the longer HIV goes undiagnosed the more damage it can do to the body.
Adherence to medication also plays a vital role in maintaining good health.
You can only contract HIV if you have sex without a condom or share a needle or injecting equipment with someone living with HIV. HIV is not spread through day-to-day contact, touching, kissing, or sharing utensils. In addition, the science and clinicians now tell us that when someone has an undetectable viral load, and they are adhering to their HIV treatment regime the virus will not be transmitted.
Undetectable means Un-transmittable.
Most HIV testing in Northern Ireland is done in a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.
These clinics are legally bound not to reveal personal details and test results.
GPs and private doctors sometimes offer HIV tests, which mean your HIV test and results would appear on your medical records, but these should still never be discussed with anyone else unless it is relevant to your treatment.
For more information about how Positive Life use your information, and our confidentiality policy, click here.
Positive Life offer a rapid testing service which will give an indicative result after 20 minutes. Due to government restrictions regarding coronavirus this service is currently by appointment only.
Click here to find out more about our Rapid Testing Service
Please contact a member of the team on 028 9024 9268