It is a simple pin prick that could save your life.
But sadly those most at risk of HIV are least likely to seek help at a clinic or from their GP – putting their lives in danger.
That is why Hampshire health bosses are next week launching a new service that brings HIV testing into the community, giving results in just 60 seconds.
The aim is to give those most at risk of having the disease the confidence to get tested in a more “comfortable” location that doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it as a sexual health clinic or doctor’s surgery.
The speed of the results also prevents days spent anxiously waiting and avoids the need for a second visit which, historically, many people tested fail to turn up to and delays early treatment which can be life-saving.
Solent NHS Trust’s sexual health team will bring the service to the Third Age Centre, in Cranberry Terrace, Southampton, where people can drop in and get tested within minutes.
Andrew Smith, sexual health promotion and HIV prevention lead, said: “This is very exciting for Hampshire. Rapid HIV testing is an opportunity to normalise HIV testing and offers opportunities for people to access a test outside of a clinical setting.
“Offering tests in the community makes it easier for people to access HIV testing and, if needed, to quickly access support and care.
“We realise that some people are reluctant to go to clinics for sexual health screening, and we are confident that this offers them a different choice in a confidential community setting. We will be offering ‘drop in’ sessions in addition to booked appointments.”
To take the test, which gives one of three results, just a small drop of blood from a finger is needed.
Negative means the test has found no detectable HIV antibodies in your blood, while reactive means that HIV antibodies have been detected and another test will be needed at a clinic to confirm. An invalid result means the test has not worked and another is needed.
The test will not pick up a HIV infection that has occurred earlier than 12 weeks from taking the test.
Andrew said: “It is important to stress that although the results are available within 60 seconds, we will provide support and counselling before, during and after the testing.
Tests will be held a the centre every Wednesday, between 3pm and 7pm.