Advancements in HIV treatments mean that a person infected with HIV can lead a healthy, active and long life. Treatments can suppress the virus so it is no longer detectable and cannot be passed onto others. The earlier a person is diagnosed as being HIV positive, the more effective the treatment and the lower the risk of infecting others.

How the infection is passed

You may become infected with HIV through

  • Unprotected sex with an infected partner
  • Sharing syringes and needles with infected drug user
  • Receiving infected blood transfusions, organ or tissue transplants
  • An infected mother to a child in the womb, birth or breastfeeding

Those at greater risk of HIV infection

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Are from a black and minority ethnic group
  • Participate in chemsex - the use of illegal substances while participating in risky sexual behaviour
  • Injection drug users

Repeat HIV testing is advised for the above groups and can be accessing through the Warrington Sexual Health service at Bath Street, which also provides HIV support post-diagnosis.

You can't become infected with HIV through

  • Casual physical contact such as touching, kissing or hugging
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Sharing everyday objects like cups, cutlery, and toilet and washing facilities
  • Swimming in a public pool
  • Mosquitoes or other insect bites
  • Donating blood

Symptoms

Early symptoms of HIV infection include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Mental changes such as memory loss
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Severe recurrent skin rashes
  • Herpes and mouth infections
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes

Protecting yourself from HIV

Prevention involves creating a barrier to the virus, such as a condom, and that any skin-piercing equipment you use is not contaminated and is disposed of safely

People who are HIV negative but are at risk of getting HIV, such as from a HIV positive partner, may access pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication. The medication is taken before you have sex.

HIV testing

If you are at risk of HIV infection, you should test for the virus as soon as possible. The earlier someone is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. All Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics offer testing, together with confidential advice, counselling and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. You can also visit your GP.

Local services include:

Bridgewater Integrated Sexual Health Service 

Call 01925 644202

 

Halton Hospital GUM Clinic

Call 01928 753217

 

Royal Liverpool Hospital Main Clinic

Call 0151 7062620

 

Manchester Royal Infirmary

Call 0161 276 5200 (male)/0161 276 5212 (female)

Community care

If you are finding that any HIV related conditions are making daily life difficult, adult social services may be able to help.

You do not need to tell us that you are HIV positive, though we will be able to offer more specific and more flexible help if you do make us aware of your circumstances.

To find out if adult social services can help you or someone you know with HIV, ask your GUM clinic, doctor or contact in a voluntary HIV organisation to refer you or contact us directly.

Support

There are several organisations and services you go to for support, information and education