HIV testing within Primary Care
We very much support HIV testing in the community. It can be a way to diagnose some patients who may never access sexual health services and can reduce the risk of late diagnosis of HIV. HIV testing is now considered to be routine in general medical settings, and doesn’t require any specific pre-test discussion beyond that which you would normally do for any other blood tests.
What to do with the results?
If you have performed an HIV test (via an instant 'Point of care' test or a blood sample sent to Salisbury District Hospital Microbiology Department) and now have a 'reactive' (initial positive) result the advice below will help you decide how to manage this.
Reactive tests can meant that the test is truly positive or that it is a false positive. Further testing is required at the reference laboratory (PHE in Bristol) to distinguish between the two and confirm or exclude a true positive.
The Salisbury District Hospital Microbiology Department will forward serology samples to PHE Bristol after initial testing in their laboratory.
Who should tell the patient?
It is best practice for the person who has requested the test to inform the patient of the result as they are most aware of the clinical and individual context. We are always happy to provide support and advice to healthcare professionals around discussing an HIV positive result and in some circumstances can arrange to inform the patient of the result on your behalf.
In cases where the likelihood of a new truly positive HIV result is high, i.e. from the pattern and titre of results on the initial laboratory test and/ or medical context, the microbiology team at Salisbury District Hospital will likely have informed us and we will be expecting your call.
If it looks more likely to be a false positive initially, the microbiology team will often wait for the results from the reference laboratory before informing us if needed.
In either case, we are always happy to give advice and arrange to see patients in our clinic urgently.
I want to talk to the patient, but what should I tell them?
-Explain what a reactive result is and that confirmation is still required before you can give a definitive answer.
-Explain that a second sample needs to be taken to confirm the result.
-That you will/have contacted the Sexual Health Department and we will be able to see them normally the same day or within the next 48 hours.
-Explain that HIV is now an easily manageable condition with a normal life expectancy and is now thought of as a chronic condition.
-Women are still able to have children.
-You can still have a happy and healthy sex life.
-That we will talk through the condition in more detail when we meet them and will support them through the diagnosis.
I would like you (Sexual Health) to inform them.
Please call us with the patients clinical and personal details and we will make contact with them to bring them into clinic to discuss results with them.
What happens next?
Once the patient has been informed, please call us and we will offer them an appointment to meet the team and to discuss their diagnosis in further details.
At the initial appointment we take a detailed history and routine bloods including a confirmatory sample if this hasn't already been done, and assess the effect HIV has had on their immune system. We also start to discuss options for treatment and address any other concerns they may have.
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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