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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is a virus which suppresses the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections, diseases and other illnesses.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the name used to describe the advanced stage of the HIV infection, where the immune system has been damaged due to the virus.

HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk.

HIV can be passed on by sharing needles or syringes or having unprotected sex.


Most people with HIV who receive treatment cannot pass on the virus.

HIV can affect people of any sexuality.

You can only be certain you are HIV-positive if you get tested.

Patients usually have a normal life expectancy if they receive an early diagnosis and treatment.

Testing and Treatments:

If you are aged 16 years or over and live in Lancashire (excluding Blackburn with Darwen), you can request a FREE bespoke STI postal testing kit.

A blood sample will be taken to test for the virus.

Antiretroviral medication will be prescribed following further blood tests.

If you think you have been in recent (last 72 hours) sexual contact with an infected person, you should visit your local sexual health clinic or A&E to access PEPSE (Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV following Sexual Exposure) treatment.

PrEP is available from Blackpool and Lancashire Sexual Health Services.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP is a highly effective tablet used to reduce the risk of catching HIV.

Further Information: