How do I get tested?

How would you feel about having an HIV test? What support could you get before you went for the test? Who would you talk to about it? Who would you avoid talking to, and why? What would encourage you to get tested?

Watch the above clip from the film Africa United in which the characters all get an HIV test in order to raise some money for their journey. In this film, one of the characters Celeste has been a sex worker and fears that she will be HIV positive. As you watch, try to notice the different attitudes the characters have towards taking the test and how the nurse administers it. Share your observations with others before watching the next clips.

Dr Rachael Jones, Lead Clinician West London Centre for Sexual Health explains the process of testing.

In this next video clip, you can watch Pamela Nash, MP take an HIV test. Pamela is MP for Airdrie and Shotts and Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS.

As you watch, try to compare it with the test represented in the Africa United clip. How are they similar and different?

  • What experiences and attitudes do you have towards hospitals, clinics, needles and injections? Does this affect your feelings about getting a sexual health test?
  • Have you ever been tested for any illness or disease? How did this make you feel?
  • How do you feel about getting a sexual health test? Can you explain your attitude?

With others, make a list of factors that might stop people wanting to get tested. Once you’ve completed this, try to come up with some ways of encouraging young people to take regular sexual health checks.

(i) In the video, we hear Katy say the rapid response ‘pin-prick’ test will not identify HIV contracted in the last three months. There are other tests available that can usually diagnose HIV far sooner (within 4 weeks). These tests are called 4th generation tests. Find out more about these tests here or read this PDF document.

(ii) Try to find out if both the rapid response 'pin prick' test and the 4th generation tests are offered in your region. Use the links in the Resources section to research HIV testing services in your area. If you don't have the most up to date testing facilities in your area, a focus for your campaigning could be to improve it. If you do have these facilities, you could use information about what’s available as part of a health promotion campaign to encourage early testing.