The Advantages of Choosing Better2Know
- Always 100% Confidential. You do not have to give us your real name and your results are never shared without your consent.
- Fast Results. Your HIV test results will be available within 1 to 3 days, depending on the location.
- Locations. We have testing clinics across Spain so you will not have to travel far.
- Facilities. Our clinics are clean and modern.
- Non-Judgmental. The clinical staff is friendly and non-judgmental. We have heard it all before.
HIV Testing Options
Better2Know has a number of HIV Testing options, and it depends on how long ago you may have been exposed, as well as your own personal preference. The decision is always yours.
Like many STIs, HIV takes time before it can be accurately detected. This time between infection and accurate detection is known as the "window" or "incubation" period. There are three types of HIV test, which can detect the virus at different window periods:
- 10 Day HIV RNA PCR Test (for exposures that occurred more than 10 days ago)
- 26 Day Instant HIV Test (for instant results while you wait in the clinic)
- 28 Day HIV DUO Test (for exposures that occurred more than 28 days ago), a fourth generation HIV test
Better2Know can also get you an HIV Medical Certificate for a visa or work medical.
An antibody is the immune system's response to disease. If you have been infected with HIV, your body will produce antibodies which are typically detectable through testing after three months. A blood sample is needed for the test.
Better2Know offers the HIV Duo 28 day test, which tests for everything which is included in this 90 day test as well as the p24 antigen. Therefore as the Duo test it a more accurate test, Better2Know no longer performs the 90 day test, as it is no longer the best test we can offer you.
If you have been advised to retest in three months time, then Better2Know suggests our 28 day HIV test,as the most appropriate test for you.
Please visit the individual test pages to find out more about each option.
How can I get HIV?
HIV is transmitted by body fluids coming into contact with each other. These can be transmitted sexually and non-sexually.
The bodily fluids that can transmit HIV are:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum)
- Vaginal Secretions
- Breast Milk
The bodily fluids that cannot transmit HIV are:
The virus can be transmitted from one person to another sexually (such as through unprotected sex) or non-sexually (such as through sharing needles).
- Vaginal Sex
- Anal Sex
- Oral Sex
If an infected man has unprotected (no condom) vaginal sex with a woman, he can pass on the virus to her through the lining of the cervix, uterus and womb. If she has any cuts or sores (which may not be visible), than the risk of transmission is higher as it makes it easier for the virus to get into the bloodstream. If an infected woman has unprotected sex with a man, she can transmit the virus to him through either a sore or cut on his penis, his urethra or the inside of his foreskin.
Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex as the membrane (lining) of the anus is thinner and more delicate than the vagina and therefore more prone to tearing. For both vaginal and anal sex, the receptive partner ("the bottom") is at a higher risk of contracting any STI, than the giving partner.
Oral sex is considered very low risk for contracting and transmitting HIV. This is because saliva has enzymes which break down the virus and because the lining of the mouth is tougher than the vagina or anus. There is a hypothetical risk of transmission if sexual fluids come into contact with sores or ulcers in the mouth or if blood from the mouth comes into contact with any genital sores, but the risk is considered extremely small.
The risk of getting the virus through sex is increased if there is any blood present (such as during a woman's period or due to any cuts) or if any partner has other STI.
- Sharing needles
- Mother to child
- Blood transfusions and products
- Healthcare workers
- Tattoos or piercings
Sharing needles is a very high risk activity for many blood borne diseases, as needles are an efficient way for one person's blood to enter another person's blood stream.
Mothers can transmit many STIs to their newborns either during pregnancy, delivery or by breastfeeding. There are drugs which can reduce the risk of transmission of these STIs significantly, if a mother knows her status early enough in the pregnancy.
It is extremely rare to contract the virus through a blood transfusion carried out in a developed country these days, as all blood donations are routinely screened. However, in countries where blood supplies are not routinely screened, blood transfusion poses a high risk for transmission.
Healthcare workers can become infected with the virus through an needle prick or by coming into contact with infected blood. However, the risk is low and the number of documented cases is very small.
If tattoo equipment has been used on someone with the virus and has not been properly sterilized afterwards, there is a risk of transmission.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
Many people who become newly infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) experience symptoms which are very much flu like in nature during the first few weeks. This is a sign that your immune system has noticed something is wrong and is putting up a fight against the new infection.
These symptoms usually occur two to six weeks after transmission and can last for up to four weeks. Research carried out by the National Aids Trust suggests that 70% - 90% of people who become infected with HIV develop these early symptoms.
Research has also shown that early diagnosis is important as it allows HIV to be monitored and managed so that the person receives the most appropriate care to them. With correct management HIV is no longer the life-threatening illness it once was. Better2Know offers HIV tests that can detect the virus from just ten days after any potential exposure.
Not everyone has symptoms, but when these do occur, most commonly they include:
- Sore throat
- Body rash
Other symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Swollen glands
These symptoms are of course very common to many illnesses including colds and flu. Therefore the only real way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.
Symptoms of HIV over longer periods
After the first stage, there follows a long period where there are fewer symptoms which is known as the 'asymptomatic stage'. An untreated HIV positive person can look and feel well for the first few years of an infection. They may find that it takes longer to get over colds and other infections in this time. This period can last around 8 to 10 years (without treatment, but much longer if the appropriate treatment is followed). It is during this time that the virus attacks the immune system causing a drop in their CD4 count.
CD4 is a protein found on the surface of a type of white blood cell (T cells) that play an important role in fighting off infections. It is these CD4 cells that send a signal to other cells in the body that an infection is present and needs to be destroyed. As the CD4 count drops and the immune system is weakened, the person may begin to experience signs of other illnesses.
This is likely to be a sign that the person may have entered the third stage: the 'symptomatic stage' during which Infections such as pneumonia and TB are more likely with such a weakened immune system. Signs of other illnesses can include sudden weight loss, night sweats, an increase in frequency of cold sore outbreaks, swollen glands, tiredness and diarrhoea.
It is during this stage where an immune system cannot cope and other infections occur, that someone may be diagnosed with AIDS (an AIDS defining illness will occur) however most people with HIV who take the appropriate treatment early enough will not go on to develop AIDS.
Any of these symptoms can occur in people without HIV, so even at this stage the only way to know is to get tested. You should take a test if you are at risk, even if you have no symptoms. An early diagnosis is important for successful treatment.
You should always consider a test if:
- You have recently had unprotected sex (without a condom) with a new partner
- A sexual partner tells you they are HIV positive
- You have shared needles or injecting equipment
- You have had a tattoo or piercing without a sterile needle
- You or your partner have had unprotected sex (without a condom) with other partners
- You or your partner have another sexually transmitted infection
- You are pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- There is any chance that an exchange of bodily fluids may have taken place with someone who is, or may be, HIV positive
When Should I get Tested?
Better2Know has two testing options depending on how long ago your potential exposure was.
- For over 10 days you can choose our Early Detection Screen which is an HIV RNA test
- For over 28 days you can choose our HIV Duo test
If you choose the Early Detection Screen, you should follow up at 28 days with the HIV Duo test.
I am really scared - Should I get the 10 day HIV test?
The 10 day test takes four working days to deliver results, so you will get your results faster than waiting to take the 28 day test. The early detection test does has a higher rate of false positives (giving a positive result when in fact there is no HIV infection) than 28 days tests. If you choose the Early Detection screen, then you should retest at 28 days with an HIV DUO test.
How long does it take to get results?
For the 28 day tests, results are available the same day your sample is received in the laboratory. It takes three days from when the sample is received in the laboratory for the ten day test.
Are my results confidential?
Yes. The results are 100% confidential and will be known only to you and the clinic. The results will not be shared with any third parties.