Doctorcall offers short-notice appointments for instant HIV testing in our St Ann’s Square clinic in Manchester.
The type of HIV test you have will depend on when the last possible exposure was. We choose the HIV test you need depending upon your window, i.e. the duration since your exposure to a high-risk sexual encounter.
When you attend for an HIV test in our Manchester clinic, you will see a specialist sexual health physician in private surroundings and your test results can be available within 60 seconds. The results will be kept confidential and you can give a false name if you wish to.
We can also test you for other STIs should you wish. Once you have made your appointment, just let us know.
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When you attend for an HIV test at Doctorcall, you see a specialist genito-urinary (GU) physician in discreet private surroundings. The doctor may ask about your history, but any information you provide is entirely voluntary. The doctor will then explain what an HIV test involves and what the results may mean.
Before you give consent to the test we can answer any questions you may have. Three different types of HIV test are available from our sexual health clinics; this enables greater accuracy and earlier testing than generally available. Your specialist Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) physician will advise you on which tests you should have before you have them.
More details on the different types of test are provided below.
The usual way of testing for HIV infection is by testing for the presence of antibodies to the HIV virus in a blood sample.
Antibodies are specific proteins which the immune system produces in response to infections. Although 90% of individuals will have detectable antibodies as early as 6 weeks after HIV infection, in 10% of cases antibodies to the HIV virus may not become detectable in a blood sample for up to 12 weeks. Because of this, a "window" of 12 weeks from exposure is often referred to, and it is normally necessary to wait 12 weeks before testing.
The standard HIV antibody tests we have the option of using for patients who are already 12 weeks post-exposure are the INSTI rapid assay test and the Abbott HIV test. These rapid HIV tests detect both HIV 1 and HIV 2 antibodies. The sensitivity of these tests is reported in the medical literature as 99.6%.
The test is simple. A straight-forward, almost painless, finger prick is enough to provide the blood sample required and the results are available in 60 seconds.
P24 Antigen Test
P24 antigen is a protein derived from the HIV virus.
It becomes detectable in a blood sample for a short period after infection (normally from 2 to 5 weeks) and rapidly becomes undetectable when antibodies to HIV start to develop. It is therefore useful in identifying early HIV infection.
The P24 antigen test is combined with an antibody test and this test is known as the HIV DUO test. Using P24 testing reduces the window from 12 weeks to 4 weeks post-exposure. The HIV DUO test is recorded as 99.8% accurate at 28 days and is now the test of choice recommended by the UK Guidelines on HIV testing 2008.
Results are available within 24 hours.
Another way to test for HIV infection (other than looking for antibodies and proteins) is to test for the HIV virus itself. We test for the genetic material (DNA/RNA) of the HIV virus in a blood sample.
Proviral testing uses a complex technique called PCR to detect the virus. This test reduces the window from exposure to only 10 days. Because of the complexity of the test, the result takes approximately 5 working days.
Proviral testing detects HIV with a sensitivity of 96 to 99%. If you undergo Proviral testing, you may be also advised to have a standard HIV test after the twelve-week window has elapsed to provide additional confirmation.
If your HIV test result is positive, this will need to be confirmed with a further set of three confirmatory HIV tests to ensure that it is not a false positive.
The likelihood of receiving a false positive is around 4 in 1000 for a standard HIV test and less than 1 in 100 for a HIV-1 Proviral test.
The confirmatory tests yield a result within 24 hours.
If HIV infection is confirmed, we can provide you with all the information you need. As an organisation we strive on being patient-centred and will always put your best interests first. We will advise you on what you need to do next and guide you to the appropriate HIV services, either through the NHS or privately if you wish.