Background

Most people who are now diagnosed with HIV will be assessed and started on treatment within a month of their diagnosis (or sooner). Longer term prognosis for people living with HIV is now generally excellent, particularly if diagnosed at an early stage of infection and taking effective HIV medications on a daily basis

We currently run HIV treatment services based at our hub in Salisbury District Hospital. There are regular clinics run by Consultants and our nurse specialist, with a designated HIV pharmacist and home care drug delivery support team. We link into the Wessex HIV network, and have multidisciplinary team meetings with Clinicians at the largest regional HIV centres in Bournemouth and Southampton.

I've recently been diagnosed as HIV positive, what happens next?

To confirm HIV, it usually requires two separate blood samples that have both tested 'HIV reactive' in a microbiology laboratory and a confirmatory sample referred for testing at a Public Health Reference Virology Laboratory (located in Bristol or Southampton in our region).

If you have had a confirmed HIV positive result you will have an initial discussion with a doctor or specialist nurse and the opportunity to ask questions. You will then be referred to an HIV treatment service.

HIV treatment services aim to see people newly diagnosed with HIV as soon as possible. Depending on the situation and how well you are, you will usually be seen by a Consultant in a designated HIV clinic within 2 weeks of your diagnosis, but it could be as quickly as the same day or the same week.

The consultant (or other doctor/nurse specialist) in the clinic will ask you questions about your general health, and current or past illnesses. If possible, please bring any current prescriptions or other medications/remedies/supplements, even those bought over the counter from pharmacies, health food shops or homeopathic practitioners to your clinic appointment.

The clinician will also ask you about any current or past sexual partners or children. They will discuss the benefits and process of arranging for them to be tested for HIV if there is any possibility that they could have acquired HIV.

You will likely be asked about your social circumstances and job as these can be factored into considerations regarding medication regimens and arranging follow up appointments.

All newly diagnosed HIV positive individuals will usually undergo a physical examination and be offered screening for sexually transmitted infections (unless they have had these recently).

Blood tests will be taken to assess full blood count (e.g. to exclude anaemia), liver function, kidney function and more specialised tests including a HIV Viral Load and a CD4 T Cell count.

A follow up appointment will usually be arranged in 1-2 weeks to discuss these results and determine a HIV treatment plan. In some circumstances, HIV treatment may be started earlier than this.

Who do I need to tell about my HIV diagnosis?

In most cases, who you choose to tell (or not) is up to you to decide and it is worth considering carefully who you trust with this information. It is recommended practice that clinicians discuss partner notification and testing of children with you if they could be at risk of HIV. This is to help to diagnose people who may not be aware that they have HIV and improve their health prognosis and prevent onward transmission to others.

The doctor or nurse that you speak to in clinic can advise you further based on your individual circumstances and provide support around doing this.

It is considered best clinical practice to inform your GP about your HIV and any medications you take for this to ensure safe continuity of care and avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. In the UK, the vast majority of people living with HIV decide to involve their GP in their care and give permission for HIV services to write to their GP. If this is something that you feel uncomfortable about and would prefer that your GP isn't automatically informed, please speak to the doctor or nurse you see in clinic.

Usually there is no requirement for you to inform your employer of your HIV status. People with HIV cannot be discriminated against and declined employment based on their HIV status alone. However, in some circumstances, e.g. health care professionals or military personnel, there may be health and safety implications related to having HIV and your job role may need to be modified to avoid you being exposed to infections e.g. tuberculosis, or you may be required to have more frequent blood testing to check you have an undetectable HIV Viral Load. It is now possible to work as a dentist or surgeon if you have successfully treated HIV and maintain a persistently undetectable HIV viral load on treatment and having well-controlled HIV infection isn't a problem for most roles in the military.

Like other long term medical conditions, you are required to disclose your HIV infection when applying for medical insurance and travel insurance. There are a number of companies who offer competitive rates for people with well-controlled HIV infection.

Where can I go to access further information or support around HIV?

There are a number of excellent websites offering reliable information and advice for people living with HIV, examples are given below:

i-Base

Terence Higgins Trust

Doctors and nurses in the HIV clinic will also provide you with written information and/or suggest further links

Unfortunately, there are no designated HIV Community Support Services based in Wiltshire currently. However Body Positive in Dorset and Terence Higgins Trust in Swindon can provide telephone advice and support if needed.

For people requiring face to face support we are able to make referrals to the Clinical Psychology team based at Salisbury District Hospital.

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Opening Times

Opening times for Department of Sexual Health, Salisbury District Hospital (GUM)

  • Monday: 09:00 - 17:00
  • Tuesday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Wednesday: 09:00 - 16:00
  • Thursday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Friday: 09:00 - 12:00
  • Saturday: CLOSED
  • Sunday: CLOSED

For walk in times at the Department of Sexual Health, click on the view clinic button below.

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