Why is it important I test for HIV? 

If you have a sex life, then it’s important to know your HIV status. HIV transmission rates are higher among trans people than cisgender people, particularly trans women who have sex with cisgender men. Testing for HIV will let you know your status and allow you to start treatment as soon as possible, meaning you can live a long and healthy life. Knowing your status also means you won’t pass on HIV to anyone else.  

If you are HIV-positive, a doctor will check your viral load (the amount of HIV in your blood) and decide whether to start you on HIV treatment. Someone on effective treatment can become HIV-undetectable, which means the level of HIV in the body is so low, that they can’t pass on HIV sexually. 

If you are HIV-negative and you are worried you are putting yourself at risk of HIV, then look at different prevention methods such as HIV prevention pill, PrEP.

If you think you have been exposed to HIV and you didn’t use any prevention methods or you are worried it didn’t work, you can also take emergency medication, PEP. 

How can I test for HIV? 

There are now many ways you can test for HIV, which are convenient, discreet, anonymous if you need it to be, and also provide better and dignified care for trans people. 

Sexual health clinics 

You can test at your local sexual health clinic, where you can also talk to professionals about your sexual health and get any advice you need. 

You can find your local clinic in England through the NHS clinic finder or in Scotland via the NHS Inform search. You can also use the Terrence Higgins Trust service finder. 

There are also trans-specific services across the UK which can provide more comfortable spaces. Some of these clinics have gender neutral waiting areas, toilets and screening rooms and will use your correct name and pronouns if they differ to your medical records. 

Here are some of the main services in the UK: 

London: CliniQ, 56T at Dean St, Spectra 

Liverpool: Butterfly Clinic 

Leeds: Trans and non-binary sexual health clinic 

Birmingham: Clinic Trans – they currently ask you contact them by telephone: 0121 643 0821 

Brighton: Clinic T 

Home testing 

Home testing is a way for you to test for HIV from the comfort of your own home. Most are self-sampling, which you return and get your results within a couple of days, with some tests now providing results within 15 minutes. Some people find this the most convenient and discreet way of testing for HIV. 

There are two different types of home HIV testing: blood sample and oral swab. 

Some tests are available for free and you can find a free test via the online test finder or through Public Health England. If you live in Scotland you can order a home test through the HIVtest.scot website. 

Terrence Higgins Trust offer a range of affordable home test options, especially if you are on a low-income. 

How often should I test for HIV? 

It’s recommended that you should test for HIV every three to six months, depending on the type of sex you are having and how often. Getting into a regular routine of testing will improve your sexual health and your wellbeing.  

Further reading and advice 

For further information about sexual health for trans people, including services and testing, visit CliniQ.

For further HIV information and statistics both in the UK and worldwide in relation to trans people, visit NAM aidsmap.

For further advice about trans sexual healthcare including the THT Direct helpline, visit Terrence Higgins Trust.

To speak to people who may be going through the same thing as you or looking for the same information, visit the LGBT HERO Forums to find help, advice and to share your story.