Search the site
Translate this website
Whittall Street Clinic is featured in Channel 4's new programme ‘The Sex Clinic’, starts 10pm Thursday 11th April.
New Rapid HIV Testing clinic at St Martin’s in the Bullring
Now open every Tuesday 11.00am - 3.15pm - no appointment needed.
The clinic is located upstairs in the St Martin’s Centre for Health & Healing next to the Church in the Bullring. Entrance to the clinic is via St Martin’s church shop.
HIV and AIDS
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that mostly infects the body’s defence (immune) cells and weakens the immune system over time. A weak immune system is unable to fight off different infections that constantly attack humans. If someone with HIV develops certain serious illnesses, this condition is called AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
At the moment there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, so once someone is diagnosed as having HIV it will stay with them for life. However, the available treatments for HIV are very good and have been improving over the recent years. As a result, with treatment, HIV has become a chronic infection.
In Birmingham, HIV infected individuals are seen by specialist HIV consultants and an experienced team consisting of pharmacists, social workers, health advisors, dieticians and specialist nurses at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB).
At UHB, there are eight HIV outpatient clinics per week held at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) where there are also designated beds for inpatients.
Patients who are HIV positive can refer themselves to these clinics by phoning 0121 204 1700 (24 hour messaging line). Please clearly and slowly record your name and telephone number. We shall call you back in less than 10 hours.
How is HIV passed on?
HIV can be transmitted by:
- Having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
- Sharing sex toys with someone who has HIV
- From mother to baby during pregnancy or birth or via breast milk
- From blood-to-blood contact such as sharing needles
The risk of getting HIV from oral sex is much lower than through anal or vaginal sex, but it increases with cuts or ulcers in the mouth, brushing teeth just before or after sex, or presence of a mouth or throat infection.
HIV can not be transmitted through hugging, kissing, sharing baths or towels, toilet seats, or from sharing cups/plates.
HIV can cause several vague symptoms in the first years of infection. Some people have a flu-like illness a few weeks after infection, this can include swollen glands, a sore throat or mouth, coating on the tongue, aching joints and a fever. But many people don’t notice this, or mistake it for the flu.
After this, there’s a long period of time (three to six years or much longer) when infected individuals may not notice any symptoms but are infectious to other people. After this period, infected patients start developing illnesses that are known as “AIDS defining illnesses”. Most AIDS defining illnesses require prolonged hospital admissions, complex investigations, and invasive therapy. Some of the AIDS defining illnesses are still very aggressive and can kill the patients if treated too late. It is for this reason that being diagnosed with HIV early enough can actually save lives.
How is HIV diagnosed?
A blood test for antibody (body’s response) to HIV is how infection with HIV is investigated. At Whittall Street Clinic, routine HIV test results are ready within 5 normal working days of the test.
Rapid HIV testing is also available. This test produces reliable result within 20 minutes. Please request this test when talking with the doctor.
What is the treatment for HIV?
HIV is a life-long condition if diagnosed and treated early. The treatment of HIV consists of a combination of at least three different tablets that patients have to take once or twice a day for life. As long as they take the tablets, HIV will not be able to attack the immune system. With a near intact immune system, infections will not be able to cause AIDS defining illnesses. Many people who start HIV treatment early, live a normal life.
Late start of HIV medicines because of delayed diagnosis or other reasons, will result in severe destruction of the immune system that may not recover fully even with anti-HIV treatment.
Once diagnosed with HIV, it is important to test your partner(s). Children of HIV infected women also need to be tested for HIV. This will help you avoid being re-infected.
You can help protect yourself against HIV and AIDS by using condoms every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.