Why all sexually active gay men should get an HIV test

Publish Date: 08/10/2008

man with safe sex packAlthough a definite diagnosis of HIV can not be given until 12 weeks after exposure, people who have contracted HIV can still pass on the infection during this period.
Therefore, failure to recognise symptoms in the first few weeks of HIV infection, may be contributing to the spread of the virus, as this period can also be the time when people newly infected can be at their most infectious. In fact, up to half of new infections are acquired from people who are newly infected themselves.

Currently, HIV campaigns centre on the fact that the virus is undetectable within the first three months of infection, and many people who have put themselves at risk may not be getting tested for up to twelve weeks, or not at all. Therefore, current HIV campaigns may not be reaching this vital group.

In some newly infected individuals, symptoms such as fever, rash, sore throat and swollen glands often present themselves simultaneously. However, as these symptoms are also present in other less serious conditions, such as colds and flu, they are often missed. Doctors are also seeing these symptoms, and not necessarily equating them with HIV.

Peter Boyle, Gay Mens Health Officer at the LGF said: "Anyone who has recently engaged in risky sexual behaviour, especially unprotected anal sex followed by the symptoms described above, should be encouraged to get an HIV test following the three month window period". It is important to remember, that if you haven't recently put yourself at risk, then the symptoms are far more likely to be related to a cold or general fever.

Recent guidelines also suggest that sexually active gay men should go for a HIV test at least once every twelve months. Earlier diagnosis means that men can access treatments earlier, and also reduce the risk of transmission to partners.

HIV tests are available through the LGF's Outreach clinics, which also offer full sexual health screenings. The outreach clinic operates from 4 different locations on Monday afternoon's (Tuesdays when there's a Bank Holiday) within Manchester's city centre and Chorlton.
1. H20 Sauna - Under Clone Zone, 36-38 Sackville Street, M1 3WA (The Gay Village).
2. The Rembrandt - 33 Sackville Street, M1 3LZ (Canal Street).
3. HEAT Sauna - 496A Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, M21 9AS.
4. Basement Sauna - 18 Tariff Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M1 2FN.
When the clinics are held at a sauna, the client does NOT have to be a paying customer. They just need to inform the staff they are there for the LGF outreach clinic.
To find out more about this service, please contact our Helpline on 0845 3303030, between 6pm-10pm, or call on 0161 235 8002 (office hours).