Free HIV testing
If you are at risk of HIV the NHS recommends annual HIV testing. People who find out early that they have HIV live longer, healthier lives than those who find out late. About 1 in 20 gay men in London have undiagnosed HIV. Two thirds of those people actively believe they are not infected.
You can walk in for a free rapid HIV (AIDS) test at any time during our opening hours. Come straight up to Level 1 reception. You'll be asked to fill in a short registration form. The service is totally confidential. You don't have to use your real name if you prefer. One of our friendly team will then see you to perform the HIV test. There is never any charge for your visit. The whole process will typically take less than one hour. Our service is usually quietest in the morning and busiest between 5 and 6:30pm.
Because we think that early diagnosis of HIV is so important we also offer outreach HIV testing in Soho's bars, gyms and saunas. Why not visit us at Sweatbox sauna (Ramillies Street, W1F 7LN) on Monday 4–9pm or in G-A-Y Bar (Old Compton Street, W1D) on Wednesday 2-6pm. We also run promotional campaigns to encourage those at risk to test. Look out for our team in their distinctive pink polo shirts.
HIV antibody/antigen test (DUO test)
This test looks for HIV itself (p24 antigen) as well as the immune system's reaction to infection (antibody). This means it detects HIV much sooner after infection than older tests. It can sometimes detect it as early as 2 weeks. By 4 weeks the test will pick up nearly everyone. The blood sample is sent to our laboratory and the result takes 3 working days. You can get the result by phone or text message.
Rapid HIV POCT test
This rapid HIV test is performed in the clinic and gives a result within 5 minutes. It uses a 'finger prick' sample of blood. The test checks for the immune system's reaction to HIV only (antibody). It will detect most infections within 6 weeks of exposure to HIV. Like all tests it can rarely give a 'false reactive' result. This happens about 7 times in every 1000 tests we do. If the test is reactive we will use a different rapid POCT test and send a sample to our laboratory to confirm the result.
The Health Protection Agency are the UK's leading experts in the performance of HIV tests. They advise that there is no test available guaranteed to pick up 100% of HIV infections before 3 months. If you want to legally exclude HIV infection, they advise you to test now and retest 3 months after any recent exposure.
Home testing pilot
The clinic is currently piloting a new initiative to allow people to take their own samples for HIV testing at home.
This pilot is currently by invitation only and not available to the general public.
The work is supported by charitable donations and a joint working agreement between Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Ltd:
Bristol-Myers Squibb have entered into a joint working agreement, as outlined in the ABPI/DH joint working template, with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for a period of six months with a review period at three months. Both parties have committed equal funding as detailed in the ABPI/DH joint working template.
The aim of the joint working agreement is to target sexually active 'men who have sex with men' (MSM) in London through a revised website and invite them to HIV test via a third party provider which has existing governance links to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital sexual health services. It is expected the agreement will deliver the following outcomes:
- Identify patients with previously undiagnosed HIV through targeted testing of the local population
- Ensure patients testing positive for HIV are transitioned into specialist services as smoothly and quickly as possible
- Reduce onward transmission in the MSM community
- Reduce late diagnosis which is a major cause of HIV mortality