What is HIV?
HIV or the "Human Immunodeficiency Virus" is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system. If left untreated it can mean you are more likely to get a range of infections or diseases that normally you would be able to fend off. You can also pass HIV on to other people. We now have the tools to stop HIV, but it takes each of us to make it happen. The most common way to get HIV is by having unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have it. Find out more on the NHS website here.
Youth Stop AIDS Newcastle has created more information here to support people living with HIV+ and AIDS.
What is AIDs?
You cannot get AIDS as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), it is a result of untreated HIV. AIDS is a syndrome or range of symptoms, that may develop in time in a person with HIV who does not receive treatment. A person can have HIV without developing AIDS, but it is not possible to have AIDS without first having HIV. Find out more about the difference between HIV & AIDs on the NHS website.
HIV does not discriminate. Anyone can get HIV. It was once believed that HIV was a disease that only occurred within the gay community, but now we know that anyone who has sex, without using a condom, can get HIV. It is important to be tested regularly, especially if you think you may have been at risk.
How can you stay protected?
Condoms, when used correctly and consistently, can help protect against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unplanned pregnancies.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication that someone without HIV can take. It will stop them from getting HIV during sex without a condom. It is highly effective at preventing HIV, but it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancy. Find out more about PrEP.
By getting yourself tested regularly, you can help stop the spread of HIV. The sooner you get tested, the better it is for your health. If you have HIV for a long time without knowing, it can damage your health and shorten your life. It’s a good idea to test at least once a year (or more if you have unprotected sex with more than one partner). Testing for HIV is free, fast, confidential, and simple. You can find out when you should get tested, which HIV test is best for you, and where you can get tested here.
HIV testing in the SU
You can book an appointment to have a HIV+ test with a sexual health adviser from MESMAC and/or Shine. During the appointment you can also discuss sexual health in general, any worries you may have, information on how to stay safe and how to take the HIV+ and STI DIY tests.
These appointments can be in person (in the SU) or alternative if you can’t get onto campus you can order a home test.
The test, although booked with NUSU is confidential between you and MESMAC & SHINE. They will also offer further support depending on the test result and can help you access other services if required. The only time we would breach confidentiality would be if they were concerned about harm to you or others, and they will explain their confidentiality policy to you when you meet.
You can also make an appointment to talk through any HIV related concerns.
How to access a HIV test if you can’t get onto campus.
HIV DIY kit offer is still available by post. Also, Shine is able to drop off to any women in the city condoms, lube, and sanitary products. They are also offering one to support and advise, just by phone or online. You can find the full list of services who also operate virtually in Newcastle here.