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What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV infects and gradually destroys an infected person’s immune system, reducing their protection against infection and cancers. You need to have been infected with HIV to develop AIDS.

Without HIV treatment and care, people with HIV will experience damage to their immune system and will develop AIDS-defining illnesses at some point in the future.

AIDS stands for ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’. It means a collection of illnesses (‘syndrome’) caused by a virus people pick up (‘acquire’) that makes their immune system get weak (‘immune deficiency’). You cannot get an AIDS diagnosis unless you are already HIV positive.

Initially, someone living with HIV may show no symptoms of HIV infection as their immune system manages to control it. However, in most cases their immune system will need help from anti-HIV drugs to keep the HIV infection under control. These drugs do not completely rid the body of HIV infection.

 How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another, especially compared to other viruses. That’s because HIV is present in body fluids (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood). So for HIV to be passed on, the body fluids of someone who is already infected have to get into an uninfected person’s body and then into their bloodstream.

Other body fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, do not contain enough of the virus to infect another person.

The main ways that HIV can be transmitted are:

  • through sexual intercourse and other sexual activities
  • from mother to baby
  • from blood to blood
  • sharing injecting equipment

Find loads more information about HIV, how it is transmitted, when testing is most effective and how it works, by visiting the National AIDS Trust website.

It starts with me…   If we all test, we can help stop HIV.

Source “IT STARTS WITH ME” Published Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where can I get HIV Treatment and Care?

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has 3 dedicated HIV clinics in Buckinghamshire, 2 at Wycombe hospital on a Monday morning and Thursday along with Brookside in Aylesbury on a Tuesday morning.

You can self – refer into the service by contacting the HIV clinical nurse specialist on 0300 303 2880 (option 4).  This referral method is the same for all other health care providers i.e GPs.

All consultations which are booked will cover your general health, adherence concerns, side effects, switching medication as well as starting for the first time.  A full sexual health screen will be offered at each consultation, for females we offer pre conception advice along with contraception.

We have a fantastic dedicated HIV team made up of doctors, community nurses and healthcare assistants who have extensive experience and knowledge within HIV.

Is there support for people living with HIV?

 Sexual Health Clinics

There are Clinics at Wycombe Hospital and Brookside Clinic in Aylesbury offering a sexual health monitoring service each week for regular health check ups and blood tests for people who are living with HIV.

HIV Support Service

Direct support is available to people living with HIV and their carers within Buckinghamshire.  The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) provide one to one support and assistance to our service users, which could include help with emotional and social issues such as disclosure, information and advice to help improve your health, as well as advocacy in relation to housing, benefits and charitable applications. THT will link with HIV Treatment and Care Services and Adult Social Care where appropriate.

We will see clients by appointment at a mutually convenient time. People living with HIV who have concerns  and those concerned about their risk of HIV please email: buc-tr.tht@nhs.net  or call Nigel French on: 07917550248

Online support for people living with HIV

Terrence Higgins Trust – http://www.tht.org.uk

My HIV –Bottom of Form http://www.myhiv.org.uk/

National AIDS Trust  – http://www.nat.org.uk  – 0207 814 6767

Sexual Health Line – 0800 567 123 also offers advice in some other languages on request.

African AIDS Helpline – 0800 0967500

Friday/Monday

Friday/Monday was launched by Terence Higgins Trust and London Friend as the first online counselling service for gay and bi men offering information about sex and drugs. To access more information or services click here

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Need to speak to someone

If you need further advice, or if this page hasn’t answered your questions then get in contact with your local bSHaW Sexual Health Clinic for a friendly chat.

Call 0300 303 2880 to book an appointment or use our service finder to locate your nearest clinic.
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