Skip to main content
hpa logo
Topics A-Z:
Search the site:
Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z HIV HIV Testing

HIV Testing

HIV virus image

Public Health England (PHE) recommends that individuals at risk should test for HIV. PHE also recommends in high prevalence areas (defined as ≥2 HIV diagnoses per 1,000 among 15-59 year olds) routine HIV testing should be commissioned as a priority for all general medical admissions and widely promoted in general practices.

Recommendations for individuals to test for HIV and where to get a test, visit the HIV/STI Prevention page.

Addressing late HIV diagnosis through screening and testing

This Evidence Summary, and accompanying Leaders’ Briefing, on the impact and economics of HIV screening and testing provide Public Health leaders with an overview to address the challenge of late-stage HIV diagnoses. The rationale and evidence for increasing HIV screening and testing is presented, in order to support public health and sexual health professionals to establish and improve HIV screening and testing in medical and community services.

Addressing Late HIV Diagnosis through Screening and Testing: An Evidence Summary (PDF, 459 KB) 

Leaders’ Briefing: Addressing late HIV diagnosis through screening and testing (PDF, 194 KB)

HIV testing & self-testing: answers to frequently asked questions

This document provides important information for people thinking about buying a self-test kit for HIV, or having an HIV test. UK law changed in April 2014 and self-test kits for HIV can now be sold in England, Scotland and Wales. At the moment no self-test kits for HIV have been CE marked for the UK or EU market, but this is expected to change in 2014/15.

HIV testing & self-testing: answers to frequently asked questions (PDF, 217 KB)

Local data

Public Health England (PHE) collects and publishes data by local authority on the proportion of new HIV diagnoses which are made late (CD4 cell count less than 350) and on the number of people accessing HIV care. Data for your area can be found at the following pages:

Sexual and Reproductive Health Profiles: late HIV diagnosis by local authority

HIV prevalence by Local Authority of residence (Excel Spreadsheet, 293 KB)

Areas where wider HIV testing policies should be considered (PDF, 141 KB) 

Expanded HIV Testing resource

This document published in April 2012 aims to provide current and future commissioners with a concise overview of the evidence of acceptability, feasibility, clinical benefit and cost-effectiveness of expanding HIV testing beyond traditional settings.

Expanded HIV testing is defined as the routine offer and recommendation of HIV testing in general medical services, e.g. general practice, or the establishment of HIV testing in other settings.

Evidence and resources to commission expanded HIV testing in priority medical services in high prevalence areas

Time to Test

This report from November 2011 provides the final results from eight Department of Health funded projects to examine models of HIV testing in hospital, primary care and community settings. Projects ran for periods of 3-12 months between 2009 and 2010.

These found that testing was acceptable to patients and effective in detecting previously undiagnosed infections. Cost of introducing routine HIV testing into general medical services was an average of £9 per test for general medical admissions and £8 for new registrants in general practice.

Time to test for HIV: Expanding HIV testing in healthcare and community services in England

National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidance in March 2011 for increasing the uptake of HIV testing in black African and MSM communities. The guidance recommends wide-scale testing in primary, secondary and emergency care settings and called for the development of local strategies to overcome barriers to more widespread testing.

National Institute of Clinical Excellence. 2011. Increasing the uptake of HIV testing to reduce undiagnosed infection and prevent transmission among black African communities living in England [external link]

National Institute of Clinical Excellence. 2011. Increasing the uptake of HIV testing to reduce undiagnosed infection and prevent transmission among men who have sex with men [external link]

BHIVA guidelines

National HIV testing guidelines developed by the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) in 2008 recommend the routine offer of an HIV test to general medical admissions and to adults registering in general practice in areas where local diagnosed HIV prevalence is greater than two per thousand among 15-59 year olds.

BHIVA UK national guidelines for HIV testing 2008 [external link]